India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is considering reducing licence fee payments for cellcos building environmentally friendly towers, as a potential incentive for operators to participate in the watchdog’s green energy initiatives. Incentives to encourage the use of renewable energy sources on mobile towers were discussed at a DoT meeting, attended by officials from telcos and towercos. The Economic Times quotes a senior executive of a leading tower firm as saying: ‘Incentivising green energy initiatives by telcos was discussed recently at an internal DoT meeting, and one of the options suggested was offering licence fee relief to cross-subsidise telecom operator investments since the cost of harnessing green power is prohibitive in the initial years.’ Reducing the licence fee by two percentage points, from 8% to 6% of adjusted gross revenue, would free up sufficient funds to run almost 66,000 mobile towers on renewable energy according to another executive.
Other options were also considered, although the DoT has ruled out subsidies from the Universal Services Obligation Fund (USOF). The regulator has opted to maintain its green energy targets for 2015: for 50% of rural and 20% of urban towers to use ‘hybrid’ power – a mix of grid support and renewable energy such as solar power.