Battle to control Internet services in city

Cable operators, broadband service providers trade charges

December 21, 2014 11:49 pm | Updated December 22, 2014 01:05 am IST - Bengaluru:

In the battle to control Internet services in the city, the tussle between local cable operators and large broadband service providers has seen a trail of accusations, cut cables and police complaints.

Broadband operators such as ACT Broadband, Hathway, G Broadband, and Bangalore Broadband Network Ltd. (BBNL) have reported that their lines have been cut allegedly by local cable operators in areas including Jeevan Bima Nagar, Indiranagar, Koramangala, Vijayanagar, Yelahanka, Lakkasandra, and Jayanagar.

While, an official from ACT said nearly 160 connections in Thippsandra area alone had been disconnected; their customer care said they had been “flooded” with complaints of disruptions across the city. This has led to complaints being lodged at the Jeevan Bima Nagar and Indiranagar police stations.

Hathway has alleged that at least 150 wires have been cut by cable operators over the past month across the city. “We have even received complaints of our executives and service staff being harassed and threatened by cable operators when they had gone to repair these cables,” said a manager there.

While this was reiterated by BBNL, where its founder, Arun Chakrapani, said a “powerful cable mafia operated”, a manager from G Broadband services said the “threat” also came from competing large broadband providers.

Though conceding that numerous cable operators had resorted to cutting broadband wires, V.S. Patrick Raju, president of the Karnataka State Cable TV Operators’ Association, blamed broadband service operators of using “illegal” means to push out local operators.

“They illegally draw wires over electric poles or wrap around trees. They even tie their cables across ours, damaging our cables,” he said. He alleged that the companies were resorting to criminal cases to “intimidate cable operators”.

Officials of both Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike and Bangalore Electricity Supply Company concede that illegal drawing of wires was rampant. Bescom authorities, for instance, said a small step had been taken by filing a criminal case in the J.B. Nagar police station against a broadband provider for causing “damage” of more than Rs. 5 lakh to its circuits due to overhanging cables.

“This is a serious problem. But, we want an amicable solution. We are trying to come up with guidelines and fix rents if our poles are to be used to draw cables,” said H. Nagesh, Bescom Director (Technical).

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