The Telecom Ministry on Monday announced amendments to the Right of Way Rules, a move that is expected to expedite upgradation and expansion of telecom networks, including 5G.
The amendments include rationalisation of charges, introduction of single window clearance system and doing away with the need for consent from a government authority for installing infrastructure over private property.
While announcing the amendments to the Indian Telegraph Right of Way (RoW) Rules, 2016, Minister for Communication, IT and Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw noted that these amendments would pave the way for the deployment of 5G small cells on existing street infrastructure and with these reforms, the country was now ready for introduction of 5G services by October.
As per the amended rules, telecom licensees can enter into agreement with private property owners and will not require any permission from any government authority for installing telecom infrastructure such as towers, poles or optical fibre.
Additionally, no administrative fee shall be charged by the Central government for the establishment of poles on land owned/controlled by it. For State/UTs, this fee will be limited to ₹1,000 per pole. The fee for laying overground optical fibre shall be limited to ₹1,000/ Km.
“Telecom licensees had to submit RoW applications on different platforms of State/UTs. The amendments provide for a single window clearance system for RoW applications. Gati Shakti Sanchar Portal of the Ministry of Communications will be the single window portal for all telecom related RoW applications,” the ministry said.
Further, to facilitate faster 5G roll-out, RoW application procedures for small cells have now been simplified and telecom licensees will be able to use street infrastructure to deploy telecom equipment at a cost of ₹150/annum in rural areas and ₹300/annum in urban areas.
Welcoming the move, S.P. Kochhar, Director General at telecom industry body COAI, said, “As the country is set to witness the 5G technology, The Indian Telegraph Right of Way (Amendment) Rules, 2022 will ensure the speedy roll-out of the technology and make the dream of 5G enabled India comes true. 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.”