The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) revised the Indian Telegraph Right of Way Rules (RoW) to establish a framework for installing overhead optical fibre cable (OFC), a step that will aid in the development of infrastructure required for the country's 5G rollout.
The amendment provides for a one-time compensation of Rs 1,000 per kilometre for laying overhead OFC, resulting in a consistent levy/fee levied by local governments. Until date, the RoW Rules applied only to subterranean OFC and mobile towers.
“These modifications would streamline the approval process for the construction and expansion of digital communications infrastructure across the country,” the DoT stated in a statement. It said that a robust pan-India digital infrastructure would help overcome the digital divide between rural and urban areas, as well as between rich and poor.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which represents the telecom industry, described the action as “progressive” and stated that “…this mandate requires that critical infrastructure be developed at the lowest logistical costs possible.” The COAI is comprised of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and Reliance Jio Infocomm.
Another industry group, the Digital Infrastructure Providers Association, or DIPA (formerly TAIPA), which represents tower companies, stated that the amendment clearly defined the framework for laying overhead OFC and thus contributed significantly to the development of necessary infrastructure for the upcoming 5G rollouts.
The DIPA explained the amendment's relevance by emphasising the importance of optical fibre as a vital and structural component of both mobile and fixed broadband networks. Accelerating the spread of fibre was critical for backhauling a significant volume of data at a high rate, increasing dependability, and lowering latency.