Draft policy acknowledges the significance of ‘Sharing’ concept followed by Telecom infrastructure providers; emphasises on the sharing of ducts, fibres, active and passive elements and towers etc.
Draft policy also focuses on enabling low cost financing for development of communication infrastructure as per the infrastructure status accorded to the industry in 2012
Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA), industry association for leading Telecommunication Infrastructure Providers such as Bharti Infratel, Indus towers, ATC towers, GTL Infrastructure, Reliance Infratel, and Tower Vision, has acknowledged that the draft NDCP 2018 will be a boon for the development of a robust telecom infrastructure and to turn the visionary programmes such as Digital India, Smart City and financial inclusion etc. into a reality, if timely actioned and implemented on-ground.
The draft policy talks of various enabling provisions such as facilitation of the establishment of mobile tower infrastructure by incentives and exemptions for construction of towers, accelerated RoW permissions with rationalisation of taxes and levies for telecom infrastructure, encourages the sharing of active and passive infrastructure by enhancing the scope of IP-Is and establishing common service utility ducts and utility corridors.
Apart from this, the draft policy also focuses on implementing ‘fibre – first’ initiative to take fibre to the home, to enterprise and to key development institutions in Tier 1, 2 and 3 towns and rural areas. Further, facilitation of Fibre-to-the-tower programme will ensure fibrisation of at least 60 percent base stations as against 20 percent presently.
The policy further envisages provisions such as enabling low cost financing for development of communication infrastructure as per the infrastructure status accorded to the industry in 2012, rationalisation of taxes and levies on Digital Communications equipment, incentivising deployment of solar and green energy for telecom towers, addressing security issues across layers including infrastructure security of physical infrastructure, implementation of the National Broadband Mission to promote WI-FI hotspots in urban and rural areas etc. for turning overarching initiatives and technologies such as Digital India, Smart City, Financial inclusion, 5G, IoT, M2M, AR and VR etc. a reality.
While appreciating the draft NDCP 2018, Mr. Tilak Raj Dua, Director General, TAIPA said “The draft NDCP 2018 is an overarching forward looking and reformative comprehensive draft policy, it addresses the issues like light regulations, easy compliances and rationalisation of taxes and levies which will lead to fulfilment of the Government of India’s visionary programmes such as Digital India, smart City and Financial inclusion etc. Further, empowering the citizens of India with various futuristic services at the go. Once notified, the implementation of the policy will be the most critical part to shape up the sector and prepare the country for the future. Now, we look forward to enabling rules/directives to reflect the intent of the policy.”
The draft policy talks of promoting collaboration models involving state, local bodies and private sector as necessary for the provisioning of shared duct infrastructure in municipalities, rural areas and national highways. This is very important to do as state bodies have their own policies which sometimes leads to coercive action on mobile towers, unusual delays in approvals, high fees and multiplicity of documents etc. ultimately impacting the bigger goals such as Digital India. The policy has been rightly named as ‘National Digital Communication Policy’.
Further Dua added “the draft policy envisages to develop a robust telecom infrastructure as the draft policy talks about smooth Right of Way approvals in states, fibre-to-the tower, low cost financing for development of communication infrastructure, security of physical infrastructure and sharing of active infrastructure by enhancing the scope of IP-Is etc. In a nutshell, the draft policy is in the right direction but the most critical part will be the implementation.”
The draft NDCP 2018 have also reinforced the importance of ‘sharing’ concept by mentioning the sharing of ducts, spectrum and active infrastructure etc. The ‘Sharing’ concept, which is the business model of infrastructure Providers is a Case study of Harvard Business School and have been emulated globally. The concept has advantages such as efficient use of capex, improved aesthetics, faster rollouts, energy savings, and better coverage quality etc.
Further, apart from the development of a robust digital telecom infrastructure, the policy estimates at creating 4 million jobs in the Digital Communication sector, Broadband for all, digital communication requirements for Smart cities, rationalisation of licensee fee, centralised web based complaint redressal system to protect consumer interests and most importantly talks of holistic and harmonised approach for emerging technologies such as 5G, AI, VR, IoT, M2M and cloud computing etc.