Extending cable TV digitisation date can deal a blow to Digital India plan: TRAI

Thomas K Thomas New Delhi | Updated on September 11, 2014

Rahul Khullar, Chairman of TRAI.

Telecom regulator writes to Prime Minister’s Office

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has told the Prime Minister’s Office that the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting proposal to stagger implementation of the cable TV digitisation plan will be a major setback to the Digital India plan.

In a communication to the PMO, Rahul Khullar, Chairman of TRAI, said, “For the last six months, we have been working on Phase-3 and Phase-4. If implementation is now staggered, it will be a body blow to the project, primarily because momentum will be lost and it is truly very difficult to enforce compliance countrywide.”

Current plan

Under the current plan, the third phase of the cable TV digitisation plan is expected to end on September 30, and phase-4 by December 31.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has proposed to extend phase-3 to December 2015 and phase-4 to December 2016. “Should this happen, it will be a major setback to digitisation in the country. Further, a huge effort was made by TRAI to enforce compliance. We encountered significant difficulties in ensuring that phase-1 and phase-2 were effectively completed,” the TRAI chief wrote.

There are 100 million homes with cable TV connection of which 20 million are digital. In addition, there are 56 million DTH homes. This is more than the fixed line telephony subscriber base. Digitisation would enable cable TV networks to be used for two-way communications, a pre-requisite for Internet services.

Optical fibre

TRAI said that digitisation offers a much cheaper means of providing broadband to consumers compared to the National Optical Fibre Network project, which aims to roll out fibre cables across the country at ₹20,000 crore.

Globally, cable TV operators are prime deliverers of broadband services.

Published on September 11, 2014

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