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I&B Ministry May Allow Cable Operators Right Of Way For IPTV

We’ve heard that the I&B Ministry and the TRAI can’t quite see eye-to-eye over IPTV regulations – the regulations were released by the I&B Ministry, but also covered telecom operators. Soma Das writes in The Financial Express that the the I&B Ministry is planning to recommend that Cable Operators also be granted Right of Way for laying down and owning fibre optic infrastructure and setting up transmission towers. At present, only Telecom operators and ISPs are allowed the Right of Way, which gives them a competitive advantage over Cable Operators in case of IPTV services.

I wonder how things will play out when Cable Operators offer IPTV or digital cable over fibre – if it’s over Internet Protocol, then they can also provide value added services, over Internet Protocol. In that case, shouldn’t it also be governed by the Telecom Ministry? This is an era of a convergence of Telecom and Broadcast, and we need a convergence of regulation…perhaps even a convergence of Ministries (I&B and Telecom).

However, the ideal solution would be to separate content from carriage – in which all content transmitted would be governed by the Ministry of I&B, and the distribution business – of DTH, Cable TV, IPTV, Mobile TV, Broadband and Mobile will come under the Telecom Ministry. I made a few notes from the TRAI Open House Discussion over Cross Media Ownership, and will put those up soon.

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