Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA), industry association for leading telecommunication infrastructure providers such as Bharti Infratel, Indus Towers, ATC Towers, GTL Infrastructure, Reliance Infratel and Tower vision said that draft tower policy as reported by Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka is in contradiction of the Right of Way rules, 2016 notified by the Indian Government.
The Karnataka Government had issued a draft regulation on “Installation of new Telecommunication Infrastructure Towers Regulations, 2015” which have unimplementable
provisions and is pending for notification. The draft policy imposes several issues such as restriction on the location of towers, requirements of multiple documents and NOCs, non-availability of Government land & buildings, exorbitant high fees ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000, lacks provision for the deployment of in-building solutions and Cell on Wheels etc. The issues and concerns have been highlighted by the industry for over the last 2.5 years however the same have not been considered by the authorities.
Karnataka state has still not adopted the provisions stipulated in Right of Way rules, 2016 crafted carefully by the Indian Government to develop a robust telecom infrastructure which is fundamental for basic network connectivity and futuristic technologies such as 5G, IoT, M2M, AI, VR and AR etc.
The Right of Way rules, 2016 have salient features such as no restriction on the location of telecom towers, single window clearance mechanism, defined time-period for approvals, deemed approvals, the appointment of Nodal officers, nominal administrative fees and deemed approval etc. extensively supporting the Digital India mission.
Tilak Raj Dua, Director General, TAIPA said “It is dismaying to read through the media articles that Karnataka Government has drafted a policy which imposes exorbitant charges for the installation of mobile towers, locational restriction and is not at all aligned with the RoW Rules, November 2016 notified by the Indian Government. The provisions in the new draft policy are in contravention with the Central guidelines, industry submissions & standpoint.
We need to understand that Central Government with telecom industry is working hard to digitise the nation in order to enable socio-economic development across every nook and corner of the nation, not aligning state tower policy with Right of Way rules, 2016 will deprive the citizens of Karnataka from quality telecom services and high-speed broadband. State Government need to understand that location for the installation of mobile tower is done scientifically and involves cumbersome process of radio frequency mapping.”
The visionary programmes of the government such as Digital India and Smart cities are severely impacted due to the absence of uniform, comprehensive tower policy aligned with RoW rules dated November 2016 issued by central government.
He further added, “We have written a letter to Hon'ble Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka highlighting our issues and concerns and also the possible way forward. We strongly recommend the Deputy CM and authorities to align the state policy with the Right of Way rules, 2016 else it will not only adversely impact the ease of doing business but will deprive the socio-economic development of Karnataka citizens.”
There are 11 Indian states such as Jharkhand, Haryana, Rajasthan, Odisha, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh etc. have aligned their tower policies with the Right of way rules, 2016 notified by Central government.
Karnataka state is the Silicon Valley of the nation, in order to deliver high-speed internet and seamless network connectivity for ensuring ease of doing business the state should align their policies with Right of Way rules, 2016. Thus, facilitating the robust telecom infrastructure eventually enabling socio-economic growth.
As of date, Karnataka has more than 32000 mobile towers mounted with more than 1 lakh 36 thousand BTSs serving 64 million wireless telecommunication subscribers. In the near future, Karnataka state needs to double the number of towers and BTS count in order to connect the unconnected, to ensure seamless network connectivity and rollout future technologies such as 5G, Internet of Things, Virtual Reality and Artificial intelligence etc.