The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the Indian non-governmental industry body of telecom operators of India has appreciated the efforts of the Himachal Pradesh government for providing clarification regarding the charges for laying of Aerial OFC and Underground OFC. According to the industry body, the confusion related to charges was hindering the roll-out of digital infrastructure by increasing the overall cost of deployment of Telecom Optical Fiber cable across the state and the policy issued by the state comes as a solution for it.
Clarification will Fasten the Roll Out Process
As per the Himachal Pradesh Right of Way Policy, 2021 (HPROW-21), the local authorities should levy a non-refundable fee of Rs 1000 per kilometre to meet administrative expenses. The policy also states that no other charges shall be levied on the licensee except for the restoration charges and relevant administrative charges prescribed. The issue was created as the local municipalities were charging higher prices ranging from Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,700 across multiple areas.
The Director-General of COAI, Lt. Gen. Dr SP Kochhar said in a statement that the RoW charges charged by various Municipal Corporations and Local Bodies were in contradiction with the Himachal Pradesh Right of Way Policy, 2021 (HPROW-21). He added that these activities hamper the planning and roll-outs of telecom infrastructure in the state, defying the industry to fulfil its commitment of providing world-class connectivity. He further thanked the State Government of Himachal Pradesh for issuing clarification and easing the process of laying out OFCs across the state.
One cannot deny the need for the telecom industry in today’s time. Telecom services is a public utility and are crucial in providing a robust network of mobile towers to boost connectivity and improve the overall socio-economic development of the country. To make the country more digitally advanced, it is necessary to develop a robust and secure state-of-the-art telecommunication network providing seamless coverage. Telecom services were a boon during the unprecedented events that took place with the widespread pandemic and the country going into lockdown. It is necessary to have a sturdy telecom industry with a robust network of mobile towers ensuring enhanced connectivity and bridging the gap of the digital divide in the country.