India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has amended the rules concerning Right of Way (RoW) with the intention of accelerating 5G network construction. The amendment introduces new rules that set out the conditions and fees for the use of street furniture, the installation of small cells and telephone lines and establishes that permission is not required from authorities for the installation of telecom infrastructure over private property as long as written notice is given beforehand along with certification from a structural engineer attesting to the structural safety of the building where the mobile tower or pole is to be established. In addition, the amendment clarified elements of the existing rules, which require that all RoW applications are submitted via the DoT’s portal and adjusted the administrative fees related to RoW.
Discussing the amendment, Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said: ‘5G requires more towers, poles, fibre and bandwidth. This will require the telecom industry to launch more telecom infrastructure.’ The official went on to note that the introduction of the central portal for RoW had led to a substantial reduction in approval time for applications in the areas where the rules have been fully implemented, from 435 days in 2019 to 16 days in July 2022. The minister also claimed that 5G services would be launched in major cities by October this year, following which deployments would be accelerated to cover sub-urban and rural areas.
The Economic Times quotes SP Kochhar, DG of industry group Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) as saying of the amendment: ‘Access to the existing infrastructure, deployment of new infrastructure and the high cost involved in it were major challenges the telecom sector always came across, which will now be eased down with the new RoW rules.’