Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel are expected to launch 5G network services later in 2022. One of the things that the telecom industry has been asking from the government is clarity on policy around the use of street furniture. As per an ET Telecom report, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) might allow the telcos to use the street furniture for an affordable annual fee. Telecom operators might have to pay DoT Rs 200-300 for use of each street light or electricity pole as street furniture for deploying small cells for 5G.
Street Furniture Critical for Success of 5G
To ensure that 5G is a commercial success in India, the telecom operators will need access to street furniture such as electricity poles, street lights, municipal buildings, and other government offices. This would enable the telcos to build a denser infrastructure for providing wireless connectivity services with a high-frequency spectrum.
Telecom operators would be able to deploy small cells on these poles and buildings to ensure that 5G coverage and signal strength is maintained throughout the cities. With the street furniture, what the telcos will basically do is bring the networks closer to the end-user.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is already conducting a pilot test in several areas of the country for the use of street furniture. Industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) had also batted for the government to allow the telecom operators access to street furniture for rolling out commercial 5G networks.
From the developments so far, it looks like it will happen, and the telcos might be able to get access to street furniture at a very affordable annual cost. The major challenge would come when different state governments have different Right-of-Way (RoW) policies.
The 5G spectrum auction is not far from here. The telecom minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw, had said that the spectrum auction would take place as scheduled earlier.