TRAI rejects proposal to move analogue sunset to 2015

The Telecom Regulator has rejected the Government’s proposal to move the sunset for analogue cable from 2013 to 2015.

In a letter sent to the ministry of information and broadcasting, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said the ministry’s concerns on the availability of set-top-boxes can be addressed if imports of the same are considered.

TRAI had recommended abolishing analogue transmission of cable signals — which accounts for nearly 90% of Indian subscribers — from the year 2013 onwards in all parts of India.

As is required under law, the Ministry — which felt the target was ‘too aggressive’ — wrote back urging the regulator to push the deadline back by a year-and-a-half.

The move from analogue to digital cable is expected to allow cable operators to withstand the onslaught of satellite-based DTH operators. From almost nothing five years ago, DTH has grabbed around 30% of the paying subscribers of the country thanks to the high-quality signal afforded by digital, while cable continues to languish.

“The lead time in for manufacturing set top boxes is not long and our dependence need not only be on indigenous manufacturers,” TRAI said.

Most DTH operators buy their set top boxes from countries such as Korea and China, while some of them also get it from Samsung which has a manufacturing facility in India. The government is keen on using the digitization to set off an electronics manufacturing industry in India, currently negligible.

Having got TRAI’s comments, the government may now set the date either at 2013 or 2015.