The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a consultation paper (pdf) seeking comments for developing a unified Quality of Service (QoS) framework for all TV platforms including DTH, Cable TV, HITS and IPTV. The consultation primarily seeks to bring better efficiency in services offered by players though these platforms, and better transparency for consumers.
According to the TRAI, QoS is defined as “totality of characteristics of a telecommunications service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated and implied needs of the user of the service.” It adds that the availability of multiple choice of services offered through a multitude of players have influenced consumer’s consumption patterns.
Proposed QoS frameworks
In addition, services are being offered through more than one medium i.e. IPTV, DTH, Cable TV, and HITS. Each medium has evolved through technological advancements, “resulting in a competitive multiplayer business environment.” Therefore, the TRAI proposes three kinds of unified regulatory framework for addressing QoS parameters in all mediums. These include:
- Self-regulated QoS framework: Distribution Platform Operators (DPOs) including IPTV, DTH, Cable TV and HITS could declare their own QoS parameters to customers and report their performance on a voluntary basis. Such an approach requires minimal intervention from TRAI. However, the regulator has opined that since there are multiple operators competing to offer the same service, “the effectiveness of such a QoS framework is debatable” and could turn out to be poor if there is no intervention.
- Regulation by an Industry led body: The regulator outlines a QoS framework, while an industry committee consisting of all stakeholders defines a detailed framework. The committee body could also undertake monitoring to check and ensure QoS compliance. However TRAI states that “ powerful players in the industry may acquire a dominant influence on the QoS framework,” which might pose a challenge for ensuring uniform regulations.
- Regulated QoS framework: TRAI defines a detailed framework for ensuring QoS compliance after consulting with the interests of various stakeholders and consumers. It would also create a mechanism to check an ensure compliance among the players. Such an approach requires a higher amount of regulator intervention, auditing, etc. However, TRAI says that consumers could benefit from such a move since a “provider has to comply with the comprehensive provisions of the QoS Regulations.”
The regulator also seeks to ensure protection of consumer’s interest by making them aware of the choice of services, terms & conditions, ease of subscriptions and quick reprisal of complaints. For companies in the broadcasting sector, TRAI seeks to ensure a better level playing field and use of ICT tools for improving QoS parameters through this consultation.
Current regulations defined by TRAI: The regulator has already enforced ‘Standards of Quality of Service (Digital Addressable Cable TV Systems) Regulations, 2012 for DTH, IPTV and HITS operators only. These include procedures relating to disconnection, re-connection, complaint redressal mechanism, protection against overcharging, technical standards, auditing, etc.