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TRAI asks govt to address AGR issue for cable ops; give incentives to boost broadband services

Telecom regulator Trai on Tuesday recommended a slew of measures, including up to Rs 200 cashback on charges to a user and fixing minimum broadband speed at 2 megabit per second, to promote internet connectivity and increase connection speed.

The regulator also recommended adoption of adjusted gross revenue as defined by it earlier to bring cable TV operators in the plan.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has recommended implementation of direct benefit transfer for accelerating growth of fixed line broadband services in rural areas by reimbursing up to Rs 200 per month per subscriber for their broadband connection charges.

In order to encourage Cable Operators, registered under Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, to provide broadband services, issues relating to computation of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) for Cable Operators need to be addressed on priority. To address this issue, the Authority has already given its recommendations to the government,” Trai recommended.

Trai had recommended excluding revenue from operations other than telecom activities and operations as well as revenue from activities under a licence/permission issued by the information and broadcasting ministry, receipts from the USO Fund etc for computation of applicable gross revenue.

The regulator in its recommendation to the Department of Telecom asked for expediting spectrum auction of frequencies that are considered fit for 5G services.

“With increasing data consumption, in order to sustain pace of investment in the cellular networks and in-turn support enhancement of mobile broadband speed, the government should expedite auction of available mid band spectrum i.e. 3300 MHz to 3600 MHz. For further enhancement of mobile broadband speed, allocation of spectrum in mm-wave range for IMT-2020 purpose should be expedited,” Trai recommended.

Trai recommended DoT to make available spectrum used for backend connectivity on demand and in time bound manner to the telecom operators for enhancing broadband speed.

The regulator has suggested three categories of broadband service- basic with minimum download speed of 2 mbps and less than 50 mbps, fast broadband between 50-300 mbps download speed and super fast capability of delivering greater than 300 mbps speed.

Trai recommended that the central government should come out first with the National Right of Way (RoW) Policy in coordination with the state governments to clear bottlenecks that come in the way of telecom networks across the country.

“In order to streamline RoW permission processes, and to facilitate establishment of a single window electronic process (online) for RoW permission applications, the central government should develop a web-based national portal with role based workflow,” Trai recommended.

The regulator said that the portal should have clearly defined roles for the central, state, and local Body authorities.

“This portal should be developed within one year,” Trai said.

The regulator has proposed an incentive scheme for telecom and internet service providers in the form of licence fees exemption to encourage growth in fixed line broadband services.

“For any licensee to avail the proposed incentives, a net increase of minimum 15 per cent in working fixed-line broadband subscribers on year on-year basis in the respective license service area (LSA) should be the eligibility criterion,” Trai recommended adding that eligibility should be assessed on quarterly basis.

It added that of the total increase in the number of working fixed line broadband service, 20 per cent connection should be from rural areas.

Telecom service providers may need to declare the availability of fixed line broadband services in specific geographic areas on a GIS map accessible to public through their website, if Trai’s recommendations are accepted by the government. The Free Press Journal

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