The new Indian Telegraph Right of Way Rules, 2016, will streamline the process of clearances for setting up mobile towers by making provisions for single-window clearance through a nodal officer in states. This will make it easier to obtain licenses for laying optical fiber cables at one go, rather than in a piecemeal manner. Introducing uniformity in rules across different states will also eliminate the unnecessary paperwork that was creating impediments by often duplicating compliance, resulting in confusion, unproductive and inefficient systems and processes.
The government's emphasis on restructuring the fee means telcos will now have to pay a nominal one-time administrative fee that will cover administrative costs for obtaining permits and licenses for the installation of telecom infrastructure. The fee has been capped at a reasonable level of 1000/- per km of RoW or 10,000/- per tower application. In the event of dispute between the competent authority and the licensee, a dispute resolution mechanism, involving the central government, has been specified, in accordance with the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885.
In addition to this, the government has specified a period of 60 days for granting RoW permits so that the overhead costs that often get compounded due to delay can be eliminated. The introduction of an online application system will make it easier for telecom operators to file applications for obtaining licenses online, which will get rid of unnecessary documentation. This will help to track applications online with the help of a click.
India now has its best chance to urgently upgrade its broadband infrastructure, if we are to bridge the urban-rural divide and move expeditiously toward achieving broadband for all and Digital India.
Broadband India Forum
The Right of Way (RoW) rules will simplify the process of site acquisition for installation of mobile towers and expedite the provision of requisite infrastructure. The entire industry is appreciative of this move as speedy rollout of optical fiber cable (OFC) and overground telecom infrastructure are the key to fulfilling the government's long-term goal of a Digital India.
We firmly believe the new rules will promote the government's vision of a digitally connected and a fully empowered India. The rules will further consumers' interests and encourage smooth coordination between the service providers and state governments/local bodies."
Rajan S Mathews
"Right of Way Rules is a major step in simplifying processes and offering stable regime for future fit investments. This step will help the telecom sector to lay fiber and install towers in all parts of the country with ease, thereby quickly rolling out mobile broadband for all and fulfilling Shri Narendra Modi's dream of Digital India."
National Council on Telecommunication and Convergence
"The much-awaited RoW policy is valuable for the creation of smarter data networks – the backbone of information highways in India. This new policy addresses transparency in payments and brings predictability in approvals. We believe the policy will not only streamline the permission procedure but also enable us in timely deployment of smarter optical fiber networks in a transparent manner. These broadband highways will connect rural India (through BharatNet) to urban (smart cities) regions, becoming a strong foundation to realize the Digital India targets.
Highlights of the newly notified rules, apart from the 60-day grant limit, are the setting up of the electronic application process, standardization of administrative costs, and positional intelligence (GIS mapping) on underground infrastructure.
The RoW policy is a progressive step toward bringing India on par to global infrastructure standards, boosting the Internet economy of the country."
Dr Anand Agarwal
CEO & Director,
Sterlite Technologies Ltd.
"We hail the RoW (Right of Way) notification. It is likely to improve the ease of doing business as it will create conditions for enhancing efficiency, competitiveness, and curtailing cost of operations. We expect the notification to have a far-reaching impact on almost all aspects of operations in the field of telecom infrastructure, from pricing of installation to seeking permission from local urban bodies when laying out optic fiber."
President & CSO,
Vihaan Network Ltd.