TAIPA (Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association), the industry association for leading telecom infrastructure providers such as Bharti Infratel, ATC towers, GTL Infrastructure, Reliance Infratel, Indus Towers and Tower Vision, today highlighted that the draft policy of Karnataka, known as “Telecommunication Infrastructure Towers Regulations, 2015” is pending for notification since 2016. The telecom policy impedes the development of a robust telecom infrastructure across the state, and the delay is also denting the Digital India Mission, a visionary flagship programme by the Narendra Modi-led government. TAIPA says that the enormous delay will impede addressing the growing data demands and roll out of futuristic technologies such as 5G, Internet of Things, Virtual Reality and Artificial intelligence etc.
The draft tower policy, which is pending for notification for more than two years imposes issues such as restriction on the location of towers such as restriction on the location of mobile tower installation, requirements of multiple documents and NOCs, non-availability of Government land & buildings, exorbitant high fees ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000, lacks provision for the deployment of in-building solutions and Cell on Wheels etc.
While on the other hand, the Centre Government have been active on the development of a robust telecom infrastructure which is evident by the notification of the Right of Way rules, 2016. The policy has enabled features such as no restriction on the location of telecom towers, single window clearance mechanism, defined time-period for approvals, the appointment of Nodal officers, nominal administrative fees and deemed approval etc. extensively supporting the Digital India mission.
The draft Karnataka tower policy is not aligned with the Right of Way rules, 2016 issued by centre government.
While highlighting the issue, Mr Tilak Raj Dua, Director General, TAIPA said “The state of Karnataka should align its draft policy with the Right of Way rules issued in November 2016 by the Department of Telecommunication to ensure deployment of critical telecom tower infrastructure. Issues such as call drops, network outage and connectivity gaps etc. are being faced by the users’ due to the absence of comprehensive mobile tower installation policy. We hope the new government will certainly address these issues and facilitate robust telecom infrastructure in the state.”
The visionary programmes of the government such as Digital India and Smart cities are severely impacted due to the absence of uniform, comprehensive tower policy aligned with RoW rules dated November 2016 issued by central government, said TAIPA in a media statement.
It is worth highlighting that other Indian states such as Kerala, Jharkhand, Haryana, Odisha, Rajasthan and Assam have aligned their tower policies with the central government guidelines.
Further, Dua added “The development of robust telecom infrastructure is the bedrock for the state to leapfrog towards Smart and Digital Karnataka. This is because all the transformational reforms such as Digital India, e-governance, Smart Cities and cashless economy etc. depends upon the connectivity provided by telecom infrastructure. Hence, we are sure that State authorities would align their state policy with RoW policy dated November 2016 which will eventually help in realising the dream of Digital India.”
As of date, Karnataka has more than 29000 mobile towers mounted with more than one lakh 22 thousand BTSs serving 64 million wireless telecommunication subscribers. In the near future, Karnataka state needs to double the number of towers and BTS count in order to connect the unconnected, to ensure seamless network connectivity and rollout future technologies such as 5G, Internet of Things, Virtual Reality and Artificial intelligence etc.
Arpit spends his day closely following the telecom and tech industry. A music connoisseur and a night owl, he also takes a deep interest in the Indian technology start-up scene and spends rest of his time spilling poetry and stories on paper.