An exorbitant one-time installation charge being levied in Bengaluru on Optical Fibre Cables and mobile phone towers is hurting cellular operators in the city, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has said.
In spite of the Centre notifying rules in 2016 to regulate the sector, the state has omitted some sections in its own legislation, the Karnataka Installation of New Telecommunication Infrastructure Towers Regulations, 2019, Rajan S Mathews, Director General of COAI, told TNIE.
He spoke of difficulties in increasing cellular infrastructure in Karnataka, including the repeated cutting of OFCs by the BBMP. “The 2016 gazette notification was adopted by Karnataka but it did not adhere to all aspects. In the state’s 2019 notification, several aspects are missing such as allowing towers to come up near schools and hospitals as long as the electromagnetic frequency is at a safe level of exposure,” he explained.
“The permission costs are too high and hinders companies from setting up more OFC networks. This leads to dropped calls and connectivity issues. We have 13,555 cell towers in Bengaluru and are in need of 20,000 more.” Mathews, along with other representatives of COAI met officials of the Urban Development Department a month ago to discuss these issues.
Explaining the difference in costs in Karnataka and other states, he said one-time permission charges for laying of OFC varies from Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 50,000 per km in Karnataka while setting up a tower cost between Rs 15,000 and Rs 1 lakh with the highest charges for BBMP limits.
On cutting of OFC cables, he said, “When metro work started in Bengaluru, they cut OFC cables causing disruption in services which is why we took BBMP’s permission and went overhead until the time they laid ducts below. Earlier this year, BBMP suddenly asked for a payment to allow overhead cables, calling them unauthorised.”―New Indian Express