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Discoms not following 5G rollout policy, hurdles galore

5G technology has the potential for ushering a major societal transformation in India by enabling a rapid expansion of the role of information technology across manufacturing, educational, healthcare, agricultural, financial, and social sectors. To make this truly possible and making India 5G ready requires robust digital infrastructure deployment across the country.

The telecom infrastructure deployment to facilitate 5G services in India includes Right of Way facilitation, access to Street Furniture including DISCOM infrastructure, Small Cells, Fibre / Radio Backhaul deployment, Electrics Poles, Side walls, Hoardings, Bus shelters, Traffic signals / lights, Metro Rail structures, Poles, roadside / campus infrastructure etc and high densification of infrastructure.

According to T.R.Dua, Director-General, Digital Infrastructure Providers Association, “To meet the growing demand of large Bandwidth, throughput, and ultra-low latency, 65% of the telecom towers need to be fiberized and 12 lakh telecom towers need to be deployed by FY 2023-24. As on date, 36% of the telecom towers are fiberized and approx. 7,50,000 towers are deployed in India. Despite proactive support from Government of India & Department of Telecommunications(DoT), the telecom infrastructure providers are still facing hurdles in faster infrastructure deployment of 5G with issues pertaining to Discoms not following the 5G rollout policy in alignment with the State Central RoW Policy, facility for bulk RoW permission since no of such poles, which may be used for 5G cell deployment may be in thousands.”

DoT has issued amendment to ITROW 2016 on 17th August 2022 incorporating provisions for Poles/Street furniture with supportive features like Administrative Fee for the establishment of poles Rs 1000 per pole for installation of small cells and telegraph line, No administrative charges for installation of small cell and telegraph line on the immovable property under control or management of central authority , Licensee shall restore the damage incurred in case of establishment of poles for installation of Small Cells and telegraph line, Compensation charges for usages of street furniture for installation of small cell, Rs 300 /annum for urban & Rs 150/annum for rural, Compensation charges for usages of street furniture for installation of telegraph line,Rs100/annum/street furniture, No compensation for establishment of poles for installation of small cells and telegraph line. Permission for installation of small cells and Telegraph line, only Details of Street furniture along with structural certificate to be submitted, No permission from any authority for telecom infrastructure on private property. Only prior intimation along with structural suitability certificate, Self-restoration- a Bank Guarantee amounting to 20% of restoration cost, Restoration by authority- the cost of restoration shall be calculated at the rates prescribed by Central Public Works Department (CPWD) or Public Works Department (PWD) of the State/UTs.

It is worthwhile to note that Indian Telegraph Rules, 2016 were released more than 6 years ago and needed major changes to cope with the demand of the 5G rollout. Amendment to the Right of Way 2016 Rules was released in 2022 incorporating policy for Poles and Street Furniture but at present, only few states including Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Chandigarh, Sikkim, Tripura, Manipur, Uttarakhand, Assam and Ladakh have aligned their state policy with Indian Telegraph Right of Way -Amendment Rules, 2022, rest all States/UT’s are yet to adopt the policy causing delay in creation of robust digital infrastructure and making India 5G ready, Mr.Dua further added.

CT Bureau

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