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Chandigarh Needs Twice as Many Telecom Towers

Here are some numbers to put things in perspective: India has 4.6 lakh mobile network towers, of these only 600 are in Chandigarh. While use of data has grown up by up to five times, the infrastructure has lagged behind the needs of the 12 lakh citizens in City Beautiful, which aspires to become a ‘Smart City’.

According to Tower And Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA) — the apex body of industry that creates telecom’s spinal infrastructure — to improve the overall network coverage, the Chandigarh city would need to double the number of mobile towers.

Till that happens, Chandigarh will continue to have 90 telecom black holes, called dark sites in technical parlance. Call drops while moving, calls not connecting at all, and low or zero data speed can only be cured by adding more towers. There is, however, a major hurdle in getting these towers. “The Chandigarh tower policy, 2015 is a lifeless framework and is not at all implementable in its current silhouette as it imposes number of restrictions and regressive provisions,” TAIPA has responded in an email to TOI.

“It has been more than 4 years that despite industry’s numerous representation and discussion regrettably the policy still imposes issues such as non-availability of government land and buildings, restriction on location of telecom towers, restriction on the height of the tower, lack of single window clearance and an exorbitant fee,” TAIPA head Tikal Raj Dua says.

The policy was challenged in the Punjab and Haryana high court, which ordered a stay on it. There has been no forward movement on this front event though the city looks at futuristic technologies such as 5G, M2M, IoT, AI and VR.

 In October 2016, then Union telecom secretary J S Deepak had pulled up the Chandigarh administration saying that he hoped the city would its telecom policy to the guidelines issued by the Centre. There has, however, been no change. Earlier, panning the UT’s policy on cellphone signal towers, the top industry bodies — Tower And Infrastructure Providers Association, Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) and COAI — had written to the DoT secretary, and the administrator to suspend the policy.
UT administration officials refused to comment on the issue saying that the matter was sub-judice. There has been no forward moment on the issue in nearly four years and no reforms are expected in near future either. – The Times of India
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