The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has issued draft policy guidelines addressing the right of way (RoW) procedures across different Indian states to help with the proliferation of modern infrastructure ahead of the 5G launch in India. With 5G networks, the need for more fiberised towers, street furniture for small cell deployment and more infrastructure will increase. Thus, addressing the RoW issues is very significant to ensure that the 5G rollout is a success for the telecom operators in India.
RoW Inconsistencies a Major Problem for Telecom Operators
The telecom operators have been facing a major problem of inconsistent RoW policies across states for years now. Because of this, they can’t plan their capex ahead of time and also have to wait for long periods for approvals.
According to an ET Telecom report, the central government has prepared the ‘Draft Policy Guidelines on Right of Way (RoW) for Establishment of Telecommunications Infrastructure’ to outline the principles related to the RoW permissions.
Across India, only 18 states currently follow the Indian Telegraphy RoW Rules 2016. The remaining states follow their own RoW policies due to which the telcos have a very big disadvantage when it comes to the overall cost of deploying and owning the infrastructure and network.
The central government has prescribed that telecom operators don’t need to pay an application fee to any person or entity over the immovable property of the local/government authority when they are looking to install small cells and optical fiber cable (OFC) needed to connect small cells.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has already piloted deploying street furniture in different parts of the country. These developments are positive for the telecom operators who are eyeing to invest lakhs of crores into the building and scaling of the infrastructure across the country to provide digital network services. A fixed solution to RoW issues is the need of the hour.