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Airtel calls for streamlining RoW charges

Bharti Airtel, one of India’s leading telecom operators, has called for a streamlined process of right of way (RoW) charges, license fee waivers, and better subscriber reporting to encourage more people to connect to broadband. Airtel cited challenges faced while expanding its broadband network across the country. In a presentation to the Department of Telecommunications in Pune, at the India ISP Conclave held on June 11. The company called for uniform charges across the nation, as states are reportedly issuing demand notes ranging from Rs 1 to Rs 33,000 per meter instead of the standard rate of Rs 1000 per kilometer for underground rollout. The telecom operator also highlighted challenges in operating subsea cables and data centers.

Airtel has called for an 8% license fee waiver for broadband to boost capex deployment by private players, which will help more homes to get connected. It also highlighted that the industry is awaiting a policy to handle private RoW like housing societies, easy and standardised recovery of security deposits, bank guarantees, and GST invoices. The Internet service provider association of India raised similar issues, calling for active and passive infrastructure sharing, exemption of non-licensed revenues from calculation of adjusted gross revenues (AGR), rationalisation of GST and taxes on rural and fixed line broadband services, and uniform RoW charges across the country.

India’s second-largest telecom operator sees a growing opportunity in the broadband space due to the rising affluence levels and evolving consumer behaviour, which is set to open up 70 million households for broadband connectivity. It cited a growth in monthly data usage from 143 GB in 2020 to 300 GB in 2022, and a surge in smart TV sales by 90% from 2020. The Reportify

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