Telecom regulator TRAI has started ‘internal examination’ on the issue of rolling out Conditional Access System (CAS) in other parts of the country as well. As is known, CAS is set to be rolled out in the notified areas of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata by December 31, 2006.
“After the recent recommendation on pricing under CAS, the regulator has started getting letters from all corners of the country asking why should CAS be limited only to the metros… we have started our internal consultation on a phased rollout of CAS in other parts of the country,” TRAI Chairman Nripendra Mishra said at the ‘India Broadband Digital Networks Forum’, which was held in the Capital on October 3, 2006.
Pointing towards the two major developments in the broadcast industry and the role of a regulator in such a scenario, Mishra said, “There is now increasing use of digital technology and rapidly growing convergence between telecom and broadcasting. The regulator in such a situation must promote growth and technological innovation.”
When asked about the difference in opinion and conflicting regulatory issues involved regarding IPTV, Mishra said, “We are trying to address the concerns of the various stakeholders and will soon come out with another consultation paper.” As reported earlier, MSOs and cable operators had severely opposed the move of TRAI to keep IPTV out of the Cable Act. They had also pointed out the differences in foreign investment levels in telecom and broadcast industry, which might give ‘unfair advantage’ to the telecom operators who aims to launch IPTV.
Mishra also assured that the authority would not persist with any prescription that was close to its expiry period. “But we have to jointly determine the expiry period,” Mishra told the stakeholders.
Speaking on the occasion, I&B Ministry Secretary, S K Arora, said, “It’s a challenge for the regulator and policy makers to keep pace with technological change and enable consumers to get the best out of the technology.”
Responding to the widespread allegation that the present Broadcast Bill did not take care of the imminent convergence issues, Arora said, “In the Broadcast Bill, we have first tried to address the convergence issues within the information and broadcasting sector, involving content and carriage, without trading into the telecom and IP segments as of now. However, we have kept the doors open. We will learn from our experience from the present regulation and would implement it in the other two sectors.”
Regarding digitisation in the broadcast sector, Arora said, “Under the 11th Plan, the Government of India and the Planning Commission are seriously addressing the issue of digitisation, encouraging and nudging both private and public broadcasters to adopt digitisation. By the 2010 Commonwealth Games, we are hopeful that the public broadcaster will be able to provide digital service at least in Delhi.”
Giving his keynote address, Subhash Chandra, Chairman, Zee Telefilms, said, “Number portability is a must for providing telecom service via cable network.” He also asked the regulator to regard distribution platforms such as IPTV, DTH and CAS as a singular distribution mechanism.