The rates for installation of mobile towers, which have been recently revised by two Delhi municipalities, saw a massive spike from around Rs 2 lakh per tower for a five-year span to Rs 5 lakh per tower for a five-year period, a senior industry executive aware of the matter stated in conversation to the ET Telecom. To add to this, each application for setting up new towers in the National capital also attracts a fee of Rs 10,000, meant for administrative expenses. The charges also rise by another 25% if the tower is shared by multiple telecom providers, making matters worse and the objections stronger.
In Delhi, both North as well as South municipal corporations, as part of separate circulars dated January 21 and January 5, respectively stated: “the revised installation charges for cell towers/poles would be Rs 10,000 per month or Rs 1 lakh per annum,” adding that in case of tower-sharing between telcos, an “extra 25% would be applicable“ per instance of such sharing.
Telcos, as well as tower companies, have been quick to object to the recent 150% jump in charges for the installation of towers.
What is Being Done to Tackle this?
In between all of these issues, problems seem to keep on coming, as one local municipality portal that accepts applications for the installation of new towers is malfunctioning, thanks to a technical snag, resulting in further delays and, more importantly, triggering higher charges for previously filed applications, all due to a delay, which if avoided, would not have these charges levied.
A separate industry executive, in conversation with ET stated: “We have recently apprised telecom secretary Anshu Prakash about the surprise decisions of two local Delhi municipalities to unilaterally increase the cell tower installation charges without discussing the matter with the operators and tower firms,”
He added that “a failure to resolve the matter quickly” could trigger disruptions in mobile coverage in the capital.
In other news, the government is all set to hold the next spectrum auction in March 2021, which is just a month away. The next spectrum auction will see Reliance Jio going all guns blazing to renew its expiring spectrum. The current market leader will be looking to renew its license in 12 telecom circles and the RCom spectrum which it is currently sharing is also expiring in July. We might not see active participation from Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea in this spectrum auction. Right after this auction, we could see the 5G spectrum auction happening in the country with 5G bands for purchase.