The Department of Telecommunication (DoT) has issued a notice clarifying that tower companies are covered by the Right of Way (RoW) rules introduced in November 2016. The rules simplified the process for operators to secure permissions to install infrastructure or purchase land from state governments by establishing a nationwide, standardised framework of procedures for granting approvals and settling disputes within a specific time-frame. The framework initially excluded dedicated infrastructure providers, but a notification from the DoT this week stated that: ‘it is clarified that under clause 2(d) of the [Telegraph Right of Way Rules, 2016], “licensee” includes Infrastructure Provider Category 1 (IP-1)’.
Responding the decision, the Economic Times quotes the director general of the Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA), Tilak Raj Dua, as saying: ‘The clarification was long pending and much needed and timely, which will expedite the provisioning of telecom infrastructure in every nook and corner of the nation.’
In a related development, the TAIPA official told the Business Standard that India needed approximately 100,000 new mobile towers in the near future to accommodate the growing demand for data. At present, India is home to around 461,000 mobile towers, supporting 1.8 million base transceiver stations (BTS) and serving more than a billion consumers, Mr Dua added, noting that around 90% of India’s towers are shared between service providers.