Govt will not impose any specific technology for broadband expansion through cable: Amit Khare

MUMBAI: Information & Broadcasting (I&B) secretary Amit Khare has said that the government will not impose any specific technology to be adopted by the multi system operators (MSOs) for bringing to fruition provisioning of broadband services through Cable TV network.

Khare said this during a conference in Delhi to discuss the issues related to the provision of Broadband connectivity through Cable TV Networks. The conference witnessed wide participation of leading MSOs from across the length and breadth of the country.

Khare acknowledged the issues raised with regards to licensing, right of way, technology and adjusted gross revenue (AGR). On the issue of AGR, he said that both businesses are separate and only that part of revenue should be taxed which is coming from taxable services.

Speaking on the occasion, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairman RS Sharma said that at present only 7% of internet connectivity in India is through fixed line network while the global average of the same is around 46%. Provisioning of broadband services through the already established Cable TV Networks will be a big help in strengthening the fixed line network infrastructure.

On the issue of payment of 8% AGR as fee to Department of Telecommunications (DoT) – whether it should be paid only in respect of broadband services or on overall revenue generated in both businesses, TRAI Chairman gave the example of South Korea which has given exemption from AGR and has 93% internet connectivity at present through fixed line connections.

Khare further stated that at present out of roughly 30 crore households in India, around 19 crore households have a television connection, approximately 10 crore of which have connection provided through Cable TV Network.

A wide market is thus readily available for provisioning internet connectivity through the vast network of Cable TV networks. He stressed that all policies of the government should emanate after taking into consideration the concerns of the people who actually have to implement it – in this case the Cable TV Operators – for ensuring which this conference had been called.

After a brief presentation by BECIL CMD George Kuruvilla detailing the technical modifications involved in the joint provision of the two services, the floor was thrown open to the participating representatives of MSOs. The participants, while expressing keenness on the proposal, expressed a wide gamut of issues and practical difficulties faced by them on a day-to-day basis.

The Conference was also attended by TRAI secretary SK Gupta, I&B ministry Additional Secretary Jayashree Mukherjee, and other senior officials of MIB. It ended with a Vote of Thanks by I&B joint secretary Anju Nigam.