TRAI today prescribed a framework of norms which will make it easier for consumers to migrate from one Direct-To-Home (DTH) service provider to another, while also encouraging transparency in charges levied by operators. Under a ‘Tariff Order’ (TO), TRAI prescribed for interoperability of Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) or Set Top Box (STB) offered by DTH operators to their subscribers. Also Read - Airtel 5G Mumbai trials show download speeds of 1.2Gbps, upload at 850Mbps
Currently if a customer wishes to migrate from one DTH operator to another, he is required to invest in the CPE of the other operator, TRAI said in a statement. Under the new framework of ‘commercial interoperability’ of CPEs, an exit option will be provided to the subscribers in case they wish to avail services from another DTH operator for any reason. Also Read - Jio maintains lead in 4G download speed, Vi in upload in May: TRAI
TRAI also observed that there is a “lack of transparency” in various schemes offered by the DTH operators. Listing the salient features of the new order, TRAI said that it mandates transparent declaration of installation and activation charges by DTH operators which shall not exceed Rs 450. Also Read - TRAI's new SMS regulations will prevent spam, fraudulent messages: Here's how
DTH operators also have to mandatorily offer an outright purchase scheme called ‘Standard Scheme’ for all types of CPEs on standalone basis, it added. DTH operators may offer additional schemes including bundled schemes and rental schemes, TRAI said.
In rental schemes, the operators can charge a specified one-time interest free refundable security deposit, installation and activation charges from the subscriber during enrolment followed by specified monthly rental charges, TRAI said.
TRAI also said that DTH operators shall cater for free maintenance and repairs of CPEs for three years after installation or activation. The TRAI order also said that in case of outright purchase and hire purchase schemes, DTH operators may levy visitation charges not exceeding Rs 250 per visit after the warranty period has elapsed.
Subscribers shall have an option of buy-back or refund for CPEs in all the offered schemes including bundled schemes with an exception of rental schemes, TRAI said. In rental scheme, the subscriber will get back the security deposit, it added. DTH operators may prescribe a lock-in period not exceeding six months for a subscriber to remain committed. Subscribers can surrender the CPE any time subject to levy of certain charges that have been prescribed.
DTH operators will also have to set up collection centers at every district headquarters to enable easy return of CPEs while subscribers shall be provided with a toll-free number for registration of request for surrender of connection. Subscribers shall have an option of returning the CPE by paying a nominal collection charge of Rs 300 to the DTH operator or to return the CPE at the designated collection center, TRAI said.
No other charges by any other name other than those specified in the order can be levied on the subscribers by DTH operators, it added. DTH operators will have to declare all current schemes on their websites while also publishing all charges for each scheme, TRAI said in its statement, while adding that the operators have been given a time of 60 days for compliance with the order.
“This will give a fillip to fair competition amongst DTH operators, discourage monopolistic practices and empower the subscriber with greater choice. This will further enable orderly growth of the sector,” TRAI said.