The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has given customers and subscribers till March 31, 2019 to choose their television channels and create their packs under its new regulatory framework, which came into effect on February 1, 2019. January 31, 2019 was the deadline for consumers to choose their new data packs. Now, the deadline has been extended to March 31, 2019, by TRAI in order to help consumers who are yet to finalise packs.
TRAI has clarified that for the time being cable operators and DTH companies can offer customers what will be called a ‘Best Fit Plan’ based on their television consumption habits. This is only for customers who have not chosen their plans till now. Here’s what the new deadline and ‘best fit plans’ mean for customers.
TRAI extension of deadline: What is the new date, how to choose channels?
TRAI has said in its press release that it was aware that under the new system, “some subscribers are facing difficulties in selecting the channels/bouquet of their choice.” It has also acknowledged that in some cases paid channels of the subscribers who did not exercise the options under the new regime were deactivated.
So in order to help customers, TRAI is extending the deadline to March 31, 2019. So what this means is that if you have not chosen the channels from your cable, DTH operator, you can do so now till March 31, 2019.
TRAI new rules: What is this new best fit plan?
TRAI’s new rules place the power of choosing channels in the hands of customers. However, some of the users have not exercised the option, given there is some confusion on how they are supposed to carry this out.
TRAI has said in its press release that the new regime should not “should not create any inconvenience to the subscribers,” and that’s why it has requested all cable, DTH companies to create ‘Best Fit Plan’ for its subscribers, who have not exercised their options yet.
According to the press release, the ‘Best Fit Plan’ shall be designed based on Consumers’ usage pattern and language spoken. This will ensure that consumers do not face a black out with their television connection.
The press release further states that this ‘Best Fit plan’ needs to have “a combination of various Genres,” and should not “exceed the payout per month of existing tariff plan of the subscriber.” This means that the cable or DTH company cannot create a ‘Best Fit’ plan, which costs a lot more than your current TV bill.
TRAI new rules: No lock-in for ‘Best fit plan’
TRAI has also said that subscribers will be free to change their ‘Best Fit Plan’ at any date and time on or before March 31, 2019. The cable operator or DTH company will have to change the ‘Best Fit’ plan into the desired pack selected by the user within 72 hours from the time choice exercised by the subscriber.
For example, if you have not chosen your packs for all of February, but you choose one on March 1, then the ‘Best Fit plan’ will stop applying within 72 hours, and your new monthly pack will come into effect.
TRAI has further clarified that there will be no ‘lock-in period’ for the subscribers till March 31, 2019 who have been migrated to ‘Best Fit Plan’ by the companies. This means that the company cannot force you to continue with the Best Fit plan, if you choose your own plan.
According to the regulator, out of the 100 million cable service TV homes and 67 million DTH TV homes in the country, around 65 per cent of the subscribers of the cable services and 35 per cent subscribers of the DTH services have already exercised the options.
TRAI is also asking all players to rely on “user-friendly methods” in order to help subscribers in exercising their choice. “These methods may include personal contact by Local Cable Operator, calling on Call Centre Number, using Mobile Apps or through Website,” said the press release.
TRAI has also reiterated that subscribers who have taken long term packs will continue to avail the services for the contracted period. But if they choose channels under the new regime, they can ask for the money for the remaining period to be adjusted for their future use.