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Mobile tower cos ask DoT to expand permit scope for handling network load

Mobile tower companies have requested the Department of Telecom (DoT) to expand scope of their permit to support upgradation and expansion of networks due to rise in data consumption.

The Industry body Tower And Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA) on Friday said that it has written to Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash to enhance the scope of permit in line with recommendation of the sector regulator Trai.

Mobile tower companies are registered under IP-1 category and are presently allowed to install active elements like antenna, network transmission equipments, cable etc of behalf of telecom operators

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on March 13 had recommended to enhance their scope of work by allowing them to own, establish, maintain, and work all such infrastructure items, equipment, and systems that are required for setting up wireless networks and transmission of signals except spectrum.

Taipa said that around 90 percent of employees in the country is working from home and the adoption of e-Services, OTT platforms, e-Commerce and e-Governance etc has increased and all this has led to a significant upsurge in mobile and internet traffic by almost 20-30 percent.

“In order to address it, telecom network capacity needs to be enhanced quickly through additional/ upgradation of existing networks comprising telecom towers, base stations, in-building solutions, OFC and other backhauling solutions such as Microwave etc. This not only requires huge investments into the sector but also ‘time to market’ would be critical,” Taipa said.

The industry body said that the Trai recommendations have come at the right time when the country requires quick investments into the networks due to sudden surge in demand for round the clock mobile and internet connectivity to the citizens due to lockdowns.

It said that at a time when telecom industry especially the Infrastructure Providers are working tirelessly and going through a lot of hardship to ensure round the clock availability of connectivity infrastructure across the country during the lockdown period, the government also needs to expedite such policy decisions to facilitate huge investments required in networks.

“In view of the above, we urge the DoT that the scope of infrastructure providers (IP-1) be enhanced immediately, accepting the Trai recommendations dated March 13 2020, in toto,” Taipa Director General T R Dua said.

The industry body said the move to allow sharing of active infrastructure through telecom tower firms will help mobile operators save 33-35 percent of their capital expenditure and 25-33 percent operational expenses.

―Outlook India

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