The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has thanked the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for coming out with the progressive Right of Way (RoW) rules. The industry body also thanked the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for playing an instrumental role in helping bring about forward-looking measures for the telecom infrastructure in India in coordination with the MoD. Back in 2021, the MoD constituted a committee on the request of COAI to examine the issues that were coming in the deployment of telecom infrastructure in defence lands/cantonment areas, following which suitable modifications in the existing RoW policy could be implemented.
The committee was formed under the chairmanship of the DG (DGDE), with participation from officers of DGDE, DoT, and COAI. Based on the recommendations from the committee, MoD has revised its policy to align it more with the central RoW guidelines of the DoT of 2016 and its amendments.
Some of the amendments that have been made are:
- Online portal for electronic application processing, which will be integrated with the national portal of DoT, having a deemed approval mechanism of 60 days.
- Process for OFC laying in Military Stations/Cantonments.
- Deemed sanction will be provided only if the application is also on the ‘Gati Shakti Sanchar’ portal and an alert will be sounded to the DGDE/Army Headquarter if there is no response from the cantonment board or station headquarter to an application after 45 days have passed.
- Now that the MoD policy is aligned to the RoW Rules 2016 and its amendment dated Oct 2021, it is understood that the provisions w.r.t. use of street furniture for the deployment of small cells and aerial fiber will be accordingly applicable.
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COAI said, "The new framework has simplified the existing regime, making it less tedious and time-consuming." This will also help in the rollout of 5G by the Indian telecom operators who are looking to cover the entire nation with the next-gen networks in less than two years.