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MCOF issues draft inter-connect agreement for MSOs and LMOs to review

MUMBAI: Urging its members not to sign the existing MSO inter-connect agreement, the Maharashtra Cable Operators Federation (MCOF) has come up with its own draft of the agreement.

Stating that the existing agreement is one-sided and favours only the multi-system operators (MSOs), the MCOF has called on all associations, federations, last mile owners (LMOs) and MSOs to go through the draft inter-connect agreement and place their suggestions, corrections, modifications, or additions.

The cable operators’ body also said that two national MSOs have already agreed to the same with ‘minor changes’ and others are considering it. Though not disclosed, it is learnt from sources that the two MSOs are Hathway Cable & Datacom and IndusInd Media & Communications (IMCL).

“The dispute over revenue share, however, continues. There is no agreement on this with the two national MSOs,” a source familiar with the development said.

The draft chalks out the spirit of understanding between the MSO and LMO as jointly working in all areas, including representations to the government or regulators, customer connect/marketing initiatives, network or technology upgrade, and shared training.

As per the draft agreement, the LMO will share customer feedback on services and demands for content with the MSO. More importantly, the LMO will appraise the MSO of customer groups seeking change of service provider, to enable the MSO to take corrective steps.

As part of a commercial understanding, the MSO will have to assign a network or franchise code to the LMO and the customers serviced by the LMO would be mapped to the network/franchise code.

Set-top boxes

Set-top boxes (STBs) will be provided on outright sale, hire purchase or rental basis and the same terms will be conveyed to the customers in unambiguous terms. The MSO will have to provide standby STB inventory of 25 or 2 per cent of the network strength, whichever is lower, to the LMO.

Billing

The amount to be received by the MSO will include: content cost, MSO share, service tax, STB rent or instalment, tax on rentals, and box AMCs. The amount received by the LMO will have LMO share, service tax payable by the LMO, and entertainment tax payable through the LMO.

Billing process

The MSO will raise per-STB/per-customer billing based on the subscriber management system (SMS) installed at the headend. The LMO will be alerted by mail upon bill being raised.

The MSO will provide access to the LMO to download the billing details on the basis of his universe forming sub-set of the SMS data.

The LMO will issue individualised billing to the MSO as per the TRAI format, acknowledging the MSO’s role by adding ‘Powered by MSO’ along the header or footer.

Incidentally, as income share is currently confined to subscriber-based revenue for services and excludes STB activation fees, carriage fees, etc., the draft agreement states that this matter will be revisited at a later date.


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