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TRAI Proposes Infrastructure Sharing in India

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released a pre-consultation paper on infrastructure sharing in broadcasting TV distribution sector.

The satellite TV channels are mostly delivered in the country through cable TV, direct-to-home (DTH), and head-end in the sky (HITS) networks. As on March 31, 2016, a total of 869 satellite TV channels are permitted for downlinking in the country. On distribution side, there are approximately 700 multi-system operators (MSOs) in DAS-notified areas, more than 60,000 cable operators, 7 DTH operators, and 2 HITS operators.

Each distribution platform operator (DPO) re-transmits a large number of satellite TV channels. Most of these TV channels are common across the DPOs. Therefore, there is a scope for better utilization of available infrastructure and reduction in the cost of operations, if the infrastructure is shared among the DPOs. There is a need to examine technical and commercial issues in sharing of infrastructure such as satellite transponders, earth station facilities, head-end facilities, and optical fiber networks being used by the DPOs. This may result in optimum utilization of the infrastructure and reduction in capital expenditure and operating expenditure of operators, which may ultimately benefit the subscribers.

The network and services can also be decoupled for separating the functions of network providers and service providers. The network providers can then focus on efficient operations and maintenance of networks so as to ensure the maximum uptime and optimal utilization of available capacities while the service providers can concentrate on services provided to the subscribers. The pre-consultation paper aims to identify various issues relating to sharing of infrastructure and separation of network and service provider functions so as to reduce cost of distribution of services through various TV distribution platforms.

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