Wednesday, February 27, 2008

MTNL Hits Regulatory Hurdle

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has shot off a letter to MTNL seeking asking why it has violated licence conditions under which a basic service operator (BSO) cannot offer value-added services such as IPTV. The regulator pointed out that MTNL has reported IPTV tariffs and providing IPTV as a value-added service under the BSO licence.

MTNL has the choice of applying for an expensive UASL The regulator can also impose a fine on the state-owned telecom company. At the moment, MTNL has licences to operate basic as well as cellular services.

MTNL plans to protest the regulator's ruling.

MTNL, was the first to introduce IPTV services last October and will soon be facing IPTV competition from Reliance Communications and Bharti in the IPTV segment as these operators are also readying their plans. MTNL is targeting around 50,000 subscribers this year and has already has 6,000.

MTNL charges Rs 250 ($US6.35) a month for around 102 channels and an upfront payment of Rs 3,000 ($US75) as rental for the set-top box for providing IPTV services.

There has been a lot of press about IPTV regulation in India that has been quite positive until now. The bump in the road that MTNL has hit shows how difficult it is to forecast markets like India.

I would appreciate comments from any readers who are closer to this situation.

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