DoT has taken this step when Karnataka government, in it’s new policy took a different approach despite the TAIPA’s (Tower and infrastructure Providers Association) submissions on draft policy.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has asked the Karnataka government to revise and align state policy on telecom infrastructure to that with Center’s Right of Way rules 2016.
In a letter dated 3rd July, to Karnataka chief secretary, Union telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan asked the top state official to make provisions for fibre deployment in the local policy, and align it with national telecom infrastructure goals.
The Right of Way rules (RoW), 2016 notified by the Indian government have clearly brought out the 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 approvals.
Karnataka Tower Policy, 2019 does not have most of the provisions as mentioned in the RoW rules, 2016 such as application for setting up of towers ranges from Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 1, 00,000 per tower instead of Rs. 10,000 per application (as per Right of Way rules, 2016), no provision of ‘deemed grant of permission if the appropriate authority fails to either grant permission or reject the application’, restrictions have been imposed on locations of towers near schools, heritage, religious structures, etc. Also, there is no provision regarding the installation of underground telecom infrastructure such as Optical Fibre Cable (OFC).
RoW rules issued by the Central government and comes on the back of its visionary programs such as Digital India and Smart cities.
India requires a uniform, comprehensive tower policy to rollout future technologies such as 5G, Internet of Things, Virtual Reality and Artificial intelligence.
Karnataka needs to double the number of towers and BTS count in order to connect the unconnected and to ensure seamless network connectivity. As of date, the state has more than 32000 mobile towers mounted with more than 1 lakh 36 thousand BTSs serving 64 million wireless telecommunication subscribers.
There are 13 Indian states such as Jharkhand, Haryana, Rajasthan, Odisha, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh that have aligned their tower policies with the Right of Way rules, 2016 notified by the Centre.