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MSOs take ad route, urge LCOs to sign interconnect agreements

MUMBAI: The All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF), the apex body of digital multi-system operators (MSOs) in India, has for the first time issued an ad urging local cable operators (LCOs) to sign interconnection agreements based on either the model or standard interconnection agreement format issued by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

AIDCFAs per the regulation, MSOs cannot supply signals to local cable operators (LCOs) without an interconnection agreement. Broadcasters also cannot supply signals without them having an interconnection agreement with the MSOs.

“With a view to ensuring that business among MSOs and LCOs is done in a fair and transparent manner and the quality of service to the subscribers is maintained, TRAI has come out with interconnection agreement formats. This is a great initiative meant to protect the interests of the subscribers and the stakeholders,” the AIDCF ad stated.

It further said that the MSOs under AIDCF have already formally communicated to their linked LCOs in this regard. “Hence, we invite all our cable operator friends to come forward and exercise their choice of interconnection agreement and sign the same. This way, we will take our sector forward and to greater heights,” the ad stated.

The AIDCF replaced MSO Alliance as the apex body of MSOs. MSOs like Hathway Cable & Datacom, DEN Networks, Siti Cable, IndusInd Media & Communications (IMCL) and GTPL are part of the federation. The federation liaises with the government authorities on issues related to the cable TV industry.

Maharashtra Cable Operators Foundation (MCOF) president Arvind Prabhoo is not too excited about the AIDCF ad. Prabhoo’s contention is that the MSOs must wait until 5 July when the matter comes up for hearing in the Bombay High Court.

MCOF and Nashik Zilla Cable Operators Federation have challenged TRAI’s interconnect regulations in the Bombay High Court. The LCOs contend that the interconnection agreements issued by the MSOs are discriminatory.

The Bombay High Court asked TRAI to consider the views of all stakeholders and come out with a framework. TRAI had issued model interconnection agreement (MIA) and standard interconnection agreement (SIA) following a consultation process. The MIA and SIA define rights, obligations, roles and responsibilities of the MSOs and the LCOs.

“We are of the view that interconnection agreement must be signed, but it should be a fair one. The MSOs have issued one-sided interconnect agreements. The matter is pending before the Bombay High Court and all stakeholders should wait for the court’s judgment. The case is listed for 5 July,” Prabhoo said.

A TRAI official, on the condition of anonymity, said that there is no stay on the regulation and the stakeholders are free to sign interconnection agreements based on their convenience.

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