Ahead of new tariff regime roll-out on December 29, 2018, the Telecom and Broadcast regulator has clarified that the installation and activation charges for Cable and DTH services shall not exceed Rs 500. Further, TRAI also imposed a cap of Rs 250 on the visiting charge of service technicians to customer premises for carrying out repair and maintenance services. In relation to the tariff order, the regulator also clarified on expected television blackout during the migration.
At present, DTH service providers charge a non-refundable amount of Rs 1,200 per connection. No extra rental is charged for the equipment on top of the service rentals. The capped amount of Rs 500 includes installation charge of up to Rs 350 and one-time activation charge of up to Rs 150. However, the regulator has allowed network operators to charge an upfront refundable deposit the towards the rental charge for the equipment, in addition to the fixed installation cost.
Tariff Regime: TRAI clarifies on DTH installation charges
“A Distributor of television channels or its linked local cable operator, as the case may be, may charge an amount not exceeding rupees three hundred and fifty as a one-time installation charge and an amount not exceeding rupees one hundred as a one-time activation charge for activating the broadcasting services related to television,” TRAI said.
TRAI also made it clear that if a customer manages to find a set-top-box or equipment that is compatible with a particular cable or DTH service, then the cable or DTH service provider cannot deny the use the same by the customer.
“It shall be permissible for every subscriber to buy a set top box of approved quality from the open market, if available, which is technically compatible with the system of the Distributor of television channels. The distributor or its linked local cable operator, as the case may be, shall not compel any subscriber to buy or take on rent the set-top box from him alone,” the regulator added.
DTH installation charges: Operators may seek refundable deposit
As per sources, the equipment cost incurred by a DTH operator for a new connection is around Rs 2,200 for a standard-definition subscriber, and around Rs 2,500 for a high-definition subscriber. So far, DTH and cable network providers have been recovering about half that amount from the subscriber through installation charges and funding the other half from their accounts.
As per the current rules, network operators now have two options: The most popular option – would be to take a refundable deposit of between Rs 700-1200 in addition to the Rs 500 installation and activation charge. The second option would be to ‘sell’ the equipment to the customer for Rs 1,500-2,500. In case of a security deposit, the network operator has to return the deposit within seven days of disconnection, provided the subscriber gave him advance notice of at least 15 days prior to the disconnection, TRAI noted.