Info-tech

Unified Licence Policy opens up rural broadband for cable TV players

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on November 21, 2017

Cable operators could soon become the last link for Internet in rural areas and villages, where the big daddies of broadband have little or no presence.

According to the draft of the proposed Unified Licence Policy, telecom players and broadband players will be allowed to appoint cable operators as franchisees to use the last mile linkages in rural areas.

The Cable Operators will have to be registered under the Cable Television Networks (Regulations) Act 1995 and its amendments.

“The terms of franchise agreement between Licensee and his franchisee shall be settled mutually by negotiation between the two parties involved. The Licensee shall report the details of such Franchisee to the Licensor as prescribed from time to time,” the draft stated.

According to the latest TAM figures, there are an estimated 140 million cable and satellite households. Out of this, nearly 74 million households are in rural areas. Nearly an estimated 82 million households have television sets in the rural region.

Roop Sharma, President Cable Operators Federation of India (COFI), which represents independent and local cable operators, said, “This is in the benefit of the local cable operators. It will help them earn additional revenues and will reduce their dependence on Multi System Operators alone.” Local cable operators have in the past expressed unhappiness with the revenue sharing model in the digital addressable system. The revenue share earned by local cable operators is in the range of 35-45 per cent, depending on paid channel bouquets or free-to-air channels.

Additional revenue

Sharma expects smaller cable operators to earn additional revenue in a transparent manner, and be able to utilise the already laid out network for triple play in the long-term. As of now, the bigger Multi System Operators and independent cable operators in metros, either have some arrangement with ISPs on a commission basis, or hold ISP licenses to offer broadband services to their consumers.

However, the smaller cable operators in rural regions will need to upgrade their cable networks and may require Government incentives and help for any such technological upgradation.

Atul Saraf, CMD of Mumbai-based Seven Star Satellite and an active member of cable TV associations, said, “So many State Governments have been doling out laptops in smaller regions, but where is the Internet connection? The big broadband players do not have any presence in villages. This will help take internet penetration to rural regions and will be a win-win situation for both the telecom players and cable operators.”

>meenakshi.v@thehindu.co.in

Published on May 08, 2013

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