The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) directed Multi-System Operators (MSOs) to start gross (consumer) billing for Phase I cities from December and complete the process of customer application form (CAF) collection in Phase II cities by 15 December.
According to a source, the MSOs wanted an extension of four weeks to complete the collection of CAF. However, TRAI Principal Advisor N Parameswaran, who chaired the meeting attended by the CEOs of national MSOs, was in no mood to relent. But he finally yielded by agreeing to have a forbearance till 15 December to allow the MSOs to sort out the issue of CAF collection.
Parameswaran is also believed to have told the MSOs that this is their final chance to complete the CAF collection along with choice of channels/ services, and enter the complete details of the subscribers in the subscriber management system (SMS). After 15 December, the MSOs will have to start switching off set-top boxes (STBs) of subscribers who fail to submit their CAF.
Overall, only 40-50 per cent of CAF has been collected in all the 38 cities, with cities in Western India doing a tad better than its counterparts in Central, Eastern and South India. On a city basis, the CAF collection is uneven. While some cities have achieved 90 per cent CAF collection, some have abysmally low collections, the chief executive added.
This is the third extension given by TRAI to the MSOs to collect CAFs. The authority had earlier given the MSOs time till 29 November to operationalise their SMS and furnish a compliance report. The earlier deadline for collecting CAF was 20 September, which was extended to 15 November.
On the issue of gross billing, TRAI said that the MSOs will have to start it from December in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. The subscribers in these cities should start receiving bills from 1 January.
Parameswaran also told the MSOs that they themselves should sort out the billing issue with local cable operators (LCOs). He is also believed to have said that the MSOs need to speed up the process of signing interconnect agreements with the LCOs.
Parameswaran, however, gave no specific timeline thereby leaving it to the MSOs and LCOs to sit around the table and come to a mutual agreement on interconnect agreements. Parameswaran also had a word of solace for the MSOs. He told the MSOs that if they face any problem like LCOs not being forthcoming in submitting CAFs or local government not cooperating, they should bring it to the notice of TRAI and it shall take the necessary steps.
On 29 November, TRAI had convened a meeting of MSOs to take stock of the DAS implementation in 41 cities covered under Phase I and II. The meeting was attended by chief executives of all national MSOs like DEN Networks CMD Sameer Manchanda, Hathway Cable and Datacom MD and CEO Jagdish Kumar, Siti Cable COO Anil Malhotra, DEN Networks CEO SN Sharma, IndusInd Media and Communications Limited (IMCL) MD Ravi Mansukhani and GTPL COO Shaji Mathews.