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Covid-19: Telecom Infra Firms Say They Face Issues With Tower Installation To Meet Demand, Dial DoT

Telecom infrastructure companies cite regulatory and logistical issues for installation of new towers to meet the increased demand for data as the lockdown due to COVID-19 pushed companies to make employees work from home.

The Tower and Infrastructure Providers’ Association (TAIPA) on Tuesday moved the office of the Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash citing regulatory and logistical issues in augmenting the telecom infrastructure to cope with the spike in demand.

The TAIPA, in a letter, has sought an urgent intervention from the Centre to help bring various states on board with the RIght of Way Policy of 2016 to facilitate setting up required upgrade of infrastructure urgently.

The letter comes amid an unprecedented surge in data consumption as the lockdown pushed companies to make employees work from home. Estimates have pegged the surge in data consumption by 30 percent at a pan-india level.

Meanwhile, urban clusters of Hyderabad and Bengaluru have seen spikes of 70 percent in terms of online traffic. This strain on telecom networks had led telecom companies’ appealing to various online video content providers such as Netflix and Amazon to switch from HD to SD.

Citing the increased pressure on network capacity, TAIPA has urged the DOT to help in augmenting infrastructure. In the letter, TAIPA has pointed out that out of 36 states and UTs, only 16 have aligned policies and guidelines with the Right of Way Policy of 2016.

The Right of Way rules were notified in November of 2016 to allow a policy framework for approving setting up of new towers and laying of fibre cables.

The telecom infrastructure companies association has highlighted the lack of compliance with the ROW Polciy of 2016 is coming in the way of installing fresh infrastructure, which in turn is coming in the way of seamless connectivity, especially in times of heightened demand.

The TAIP argued many states have no guidelines for installation of new towers. It also complained that many states have restrictive policies on towers in residential and coastal areas, etc.

The TAIPA also urged states such as Kerala charge its exorbitant fees for allowing the companies to lay optic fibre.

T R Dua, Director-General, TAIPA, said, “To keep the data usage and smooth functioning of telecom services 24/7, the telecom sector needs critical robust infrastructure. With more than 3 years gone, only 16 states out of 36 States/UT’s have broadly aligned their policy with Row policy 2016. Such policy anomaly in the states have deprived citizens and especially and others, from seamless network and internet connectivity and would impede rollout of new technologies like 5G, M2M/IoT etc. in the States.”

It identifies states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Kerala, Punjab, and Chhattisgarh where the problem is acute.


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