Tariff orders have been issued by the Indian regulator to ensure consumers can both afford and easily understand the cost of set-top boxes and consumer premises equipment (CPE) for the reception of digital cable and direct-to-home (DTH) TV.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said in a statement that the prescription of a standard tariff package is also to ensure effective commercial interoperability.
Operators can still set their own prices when it comes to offering premium set-top boxes or CPE with value added services such as high definition (HD), video record, catch-up TV or video-on-demand functions.
For the standard package, digital cable TV operators and DTH service providers can provide different set-top boxes and CPE to consumers with a variety of rental and security deposit plans.
Cable TV operators can charge a monthly rent of INR55.66 or INR50.66 (excluding taxes) for a digital set-top box if the security deposit is INR400 or INR800 respectively. Meanwhile, the monthly rent for the CPE provided by DTH service providers is INR71.75 if the security deposit is INR500, or INR65.50 if the security deposit is INR1,000.
After three years, the security deposit will be refunded to the subscriber and the set-top box or CPE will become the subscriber's property.
Other options are also available to consumers and operators for the standard package, where the security deposit gets adjusted according to the monthly rental fee.
Digital cable operators can offer the STBs at a monthly adjustable rent of INR46.80 or INR32.93 if the security deposit is INR400 and INR800 respectively. Likewise, DTH providers can provide CPE with a monthly adjustable rent of INR60.66 and INR43.32 if the security deposit is INR500 and INR1,000. If the subscriber chooses to exit the plan, they will receive a refund according to the month of disconnection.
TRAI says that while these packages are mandatory for cable and digital operators to offer to their subscribers, the former are also able to set their own premium offers.