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TRAI set to recommend infrastructure sharing among DPOs

NEW DELHI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is set to recommend infrastructure sharing among distribution platform operators (DPOs) that will help them cut their costs of operations.

The recommendations are likely to be made public today, Moneycontrol.com reported. It will be sent to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) for its consideration and approval.

The broadcast sector regulator had earlier suggested infrastructure sharing between DPOs like direct-to-home (DTH) and headend-in-the-sky (HITS) operators, between HITS and multi-system operators (MSOs), and among MSOs. The move, TRAI felt, would ensure optimum utilisation of the available infrastructure.

Infrastructure sharing would also result in reduction in capital expenditure and operating expenditure, TRAI had said.

Among other changes TRAI is likely to recommend a proposal to allow sharing of satellite transponder space and earth station facilities by different DTH and HITS operators. There is currently a shortage in KU-band transponders which the DTH industry uses.

TRAI feels the sharing of earth station and transponder space, on voluntary basis, by multiple DTH and HITS operators may result in saving in the capex and opex without compromising either on the quality of the programme or flexibility to provide diverse programmes. Even separate electronic programme guides (EPG) can be provided, TRAI believes.

“In case of a shared satellite capacity/transponder, the licencee in whose name it has been issued will continue to be responsible for ensuring compliance with all licence conditions,” Moneycontrol quoted an official as saying.

According to TRAI’s consultation paper on the subject floated in September last year, more than 100 transponders of 36 MHz equivalent are in operation by existing six DTH operators. Each DTH operator transmits approximately 350 to 450 standard definition TV channels and around 50 HD channels on its platforms.

In a consultation paper titled ‘Pre-consultation Paper on Infrastructure sharing in Broadcasting TV distribution sector’ issued last year, TRAI had noted that most of the TV channels retransmitted by DTH/ HITS operators are replicated causing inefficient use of satellite transponders.

“The basic premise of transponder space sharing is that popular satellite TV channels could be retransmitted using common transponder space on a satellite by multiple operators voluntarily,” TRAI had stated.

For channels that are not common, the operators can hire additional transponder capacity on the same satellite or on co-located satellite separately.

TRAI had suggested that a headend can be shared by multiple MSOs. The transport stream generated from one headend can be shared by many MSOs with the help of simulcrypting technologies where up to eight service providers can share a common transport stream. This, the authority said, may not only reduce the capex but also reduce the cost of retransmission of signals.

As reported earlier, the changes suggested by TRAI would require amending the licence conditions of the DPOs. TRAI has thus sought the views of stakeholders on amending licence conditions of MSOs, HITS and DTH operators, to enable infrastructure sharing among different distribution DPOs.

The sharing of infrastructure among the DPOs is on voluntary basis and not binding on any stakeholder.

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