Cable TV networks may take internet services to homes in remote areas

Cable TV networks may take internet services to homes in remote areas

NEW DELHI: With an aim to ramp up broadband connectivity to the farthest reaches of the country, the ministry of information and broadcasting and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India have revived a proposal to provide broadband services through existing cable networks.

The move has the potential, ministry officials said, to provide instant internet connectivity to nearly 19 crore households that have television sets, of which about 10 crore homes already have cable TV subscription.


At a recently held deliberation with cable operators from across the country, Trai chairman R S Sharma also said that such a move can increase internet connectivity through fixed line networks from the existing 7%, against the global average of 46%.

At the consumers’ end, the transition to broadband, along with cable TV services, will happen through a simple migration to a new set top box.

At the service providers’ end, technology integration for both cable and broadband services will be facilitated by the ministry’s engineering arm- BECIL.

The sticking point, however, remains the 8% Annual General Revenue (AGR) — the payment that cable operators currently pay to the department of telecom — and whether, once this transition is made, it should only be paid for the broadband services, or for the overall revenue generated from both businesses. Apart from concerns over licensing, there is an apprehension among cable operators that paying AGR on total revenue generated from both businesses may impact their bottom lines. During the mid-December meeting of the ministry and TRAI with service providers, Sharma also cited the instance of South Korea, which has implemented a similar proposal and has offered an AGR waiver to its cable service providers, as a result of which internet connectivity through fixed line networks in the country is pegged at 93%.

Sources in the government said that the ministry and cable operators are both keen on seeing the proposal being implemented. The government has also assured cable operators that no specific technology will be imposed on service operators for providing broadband services through cable networks.

I&B secretary Amit Khare also said that the cable TV and broadband businesses should be treated as separate and that only revenue generated through the supply of broadband services should be taxed.

For it to be implemented, the proposal will now be whetted on the financial implications of a likely AGR waiver. But with both the government and service providers on board, it is likely to see the light of day.


Source:- indiatimes