The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) is backing the recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on spectrum and RoW. The telecom regulator has proposed a new national portal for RoW. Further, TRAI has recommended exemption of RoW charges for the telcos for the next five years (FY23 to FY28) with an aim to expedite the laying of common ducts. On top of this, TRAI recommends that RoW permission should be streamlined with the participation of more utility departments and central agencies to reduce fiber cuts in an area. The regulator also wants uniform restoration charges.
TRAI has further suggested that the auction of available mid-band spectrum, i.e., 3300 MHz to 3600 MHz, should be expedited. It will allow the telcos in coming out with 5G services in India as early as possible and open up new revenue streams.
COAI Believes TRAI Recommendations Will Be Implemented By Government
SP Kochhar, Directorate General, COAI, said, the government will surely consider the recommendations made by TRAI and should implement them. The recommendation for exemption of RoW charges for the next five years – from FY 2022-23 to FY 2027-28 – will significantly reduce the overall cost of roll-out for TSPs. Another recommendation on the National RoW portal is a big step for the Indian Telecommunication Industry. It will usher transparency in decision making and also boost the roll-out of services.
With regard to the restoration charge, TRAI has recommended that the Central Government work out a uniform restoration change for open trench and pits with State Governments and UTs. We believe that this will ensure clarity on charges applied and also reduce the cost burden for TSPs.
Another recommendation of TRAI is to implement dig once policy and to inform before the dig. In this regard, TRAI has recommended that to avoid frequent interruptions in services due to accidental damages of underground infrastructure, each utility provider should communicate its digging plans in an area to other utility providers operating in that area before submitting an application for RoW permission to the appropriate authority. This recommendation will help in addressing the issue of frequent fibre cuts and help the Industry to save the cost of redeployment of fibre.
To pave the way for India 5G ready at the earliest, TRAI’s suggestion to expedite auction of available mid-band spectrum i.e. 3300 MHz to 3600 MHz, and allocation of spectrum in mm-wave range for IMT-2020 purpose, will enhance the availability of spectrum for diversification of broadband services. In addition to this, the suggestion for assignment of the backhaul spectrum on demand and in a time-bound manner to TSPs will help overcome the capacity constraints in the backhaul connectivity of cellular networks, thus enabling broadband reach and capacity.