On 9 December, The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has finally decided to propose a standard interconnection agreement (SIA) that could be followed as a draft model. Earlier, the sector regulator had said that it would be best left for market forces to sort out interconnection agreements between the MSOs and the LCOs. This has been done after disputes related to interconnection between MSOs and LCOs were on the rise and digitization has not succeeded the way it was expected even after four years of implementation. After The Bombay HC asked TRAI to intervene and resolve the issues, TRAI has held several meetings with MSOs and LCOs and only after that decided to draft a standard interconnect agreement.
The interconnection regulation for DAS provides that no MSO shall provide signal of TV channels to LCO without entering into written interconnection agreement. The interconnection regulation further provides that the interconnection agreement between the MSO and its linked Leo shall have the details of various activities rendered by LCO and MSOs, and the revenue settlement between the parties for these services. The regulatory framework applicable for DAS also provides that the revenue share between LCO and MSO shall be as agreement, TRAI has mandated the subscription revenue share between the MSO and the LCO as a fall back arrangement.
Recently, during January-October 2015, with an objective to enhance the awareness about the regulatory framework among stakeholders and to assess the compliance of the regulatory framework, TRAI held interaction with MSOs and LCOs in the various parts of the country. During these interactions, the stakeholders raised the issue that the terms and conditions of the agreement offered by the MSO is one sided and do not provide a level field to the LCOs. Often the obligation of both the parties for meeting the quality of service norms prescribed in the QoS regulation is not clearly defined in the interconnection agreement and due to which, in the event of dispute between the MSO and the LCO, the quality of service is adversely affected.
With an objective to reduce the disputes between MSOs and LCOs, TRAI has devised Model & Standard Interconnection Agreements which contains mandatory provisions to ensure the compliance of the regulatory framework available for DAS. The proposed draft consists of a Model Interconnection Agreement (MIA) and Standard Interconnection agreements (SIA) in a single document namely draft model & standard interconnection agreements. The draft contains necessary terms and conditions, to ensure the compliance of the regulatory framework available for DAS and, to provide a level playing field to the MSOs and the LCOs. The draft agreement also lists roles and responsibilities as well as rights and obligations of each party separately.
According to Mrs. Roop Sharma, President, Cable Operators Federation of India, the federation has been apprising of the ground situation to TRAI and MIB right from the start of Digitisation and regulated for a standard Agreement. “We are happy that this step is being taken by TRAI now, although it is very late. Cable Operators in Punjab and many other have suffered irreparable damage due to one sided interconnect agreements with large MSOs who have powerful political links”, says Mrs. Sharma.
The draft Model & Standard Interconnection agreements have been uploaded on the TRAI website www.trai.gov.in. Stakeholders have been requested to offer their comments and counter comments latest by 31.12.2015 and 07.01.2016 respectively. The comments/ counter comments may be sent preferably in electronic form on email to firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com. For any clarification/ information, Mr. Sunil Kumar Singhal, Advisor (B&CS) may be contacted at Tel. No.: +91-11-23221509, Fax: +91-11-23220442. Comments will be posted on TRAI's website www.trai.gov.in