New telecom norms to give fillip to Modi’s ‘Digital India’ mission

  • Anupam Trivedi, Hindustan Times, Dehradun
  • Updated: Jul 01, 2016 12:31 IST
Mobile towers in Dehradun. (Vinay Santosh Kumar/HT Photo)

The Centre is all set to give the go ahead to the department of telecommunications for framing of rules under the Indian Telegraph Act, to rationalise Right of Way procedures and charges for laying telecom infrastructure across the country, a top official said on Thursday.

The new procedures will ensure time bound go-ahead to telecom companies seeking permission to erect towers or lay optical fiber in cities to ensure a smooth nationawide rollout of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious ‘Digital India’ mission, said JS Deepak, union telecom secretary.

The Centre will soon bring in legislation-backed guiding principles to rationalize Right of Way procedures and charges for establishing a better telecom infrastructure, he said.

Right of Way allows state governments and local civic bodies to levy charges from telecom service providers for laying telecom infrastructure. Right of Way charges vary from a few lakh of rupees to 1.5 crore per km across municipal bodies in the country.

Deepak, who was in the city to participate in a workshop on mobile towers organsied by the union ministry of communications and information technology as part of the Centre’s Digital India” campaign, said the network of mobile towers ‘has to grow’ in a bid to strengthen telecom services across the country.

The Indian telecom industry has witnessed phenomenal growth over the last two decades. The number of mobile subscribers has swelled from 30 million to 1 billion since 2000. An inadequate infrastructure due to lack of adequate mobile towers, however, has become a hindrance for mobile users who often face call drops and poor connectivity

“A uniform Right of Way procedure and charges will ensure that telecom companies get permission within 45 days,” Deepak said.

Deepak admitted that telecom companies face difficulties as local authorities across the country have different norms and procedures, to grant permission.

A rationalized Right of Way will make sure that states have uniform procedures to follow when it comes to giving permissions to service providers, he said.

Deepak further that said nearly 4.75 lakh mobile towers are catering to 1 billion subscribes in the country. “The shortage of mobile towers has led to such a situation that one single tower on an average is shared by more than two telecom service providers.”

There is a misconception that radiation from mobile towers has a negative impact on people’s health, he said, adding that Indian mobile towers emit one watt per square meter of radiation, which is lower than the international standards.

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