The telecom and broadcast regulator TRAI today said that it has capped the installation and activation charges for cable and DTH services at Rs 500, comprising an installation charge of up to Rs 350 and an activation charge of up to Rs 150.
However, in addition the above charges, these players can levy an upfront refundable deposit as well as a monthly charge as rental for the equipment.
At present, DTH companies charge around Rs 1,200 per connection, which is considered non-refundable. No extra rental is charged for the equipment on top of the service rentals.
TRAI made the clarifications as part of the roll-out of the new tariff regime that comes into effect from December 29.
“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,” it said.
TRAI also made it clear that if a consumer manages to find a set-top-box or equipment that works with a particular cable or DTH service, then he has to be allowed to use the same by the DTH or cable operator.
“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,” it added.
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 companies have been recovering about half that amount from the subscriber and contributing the other half from their pocket.
Under the new rules, these operators have two options to meet their expenses. The first — and likely the most popular option — would be take a security 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 it’s a security deposit, the 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 said.
In addition to the above, the regulator also imposed a cap of Rs 250 on the visiting charge of service technicians to subscriber premises for carrying out repair and maintenance services.