Terming the TRAI Recommendations on Improving Telecom Infrastructure in Northeastern States of India – as progressive, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has welcomed the move.
In a statement, Lt. Gen. Dr. S.P. Kochhar, Director General, COAI said that these progressive TRAI recommendations are set to propel Digital Development of North-East India.
“COAI welcomes some of the important recommendations made by TRAI, which re-emphasize some of the industry’s long-standing asks. The industry is confident that if implemented in letter and spirit, these progressive recommendations will provide further impetus to proliferation of telecom and broadband services in the North-East region of the country, thus propelling socio-economic and digital progress for the citizens. Following are the recommendations which would benefit the telecom ecosystem in the region, especially the consumers.
The Authority has recommended complete exemption of Right of Way (RoW) charges in the rural, tribal and hilly regions for a duration of five years, which will encourage TSPs to invest further towards network deployments in the lesser populated regions.
As regards provisioning power supply for the telecom sector, it has been recommended that electricity be provided to telecom sites as a priority (within 15 days of connections request) and importantly, at Utility/Industrial tariff rates. The respective State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs) are to notify these utility tariffs, which are to be lower than the Industrial tariff. Further, waiving off or subsidizing last mile installation charges for extending electricity connection to telecom sites in remote and hilly areas has been recommended. These would serve in faster and more economic operations of the sector, eventually benefitting the consumers. Use of renewable energy for telecom has also recommended to be supported through a proposed Government scheme to fund installation of renewable energy sources at all important strategic telecom sites in remote hilly areas immediately.
Enabling provisions recommended to be incorporated in the Ministry of Environment and Forests’ policy to expedite accord of environmental clearance to TSPs for installing Mobile towers and DG sets for tower locations, would hasten telecom infrastructure development in the region. Further, the Authority’s earlier recommendations on ‘Use of Street Furniture for Small Cell and Aerial Fiber Deployment’ have been advised to be implemented to strengthen 5G deployments.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has been recommended to engage with the Department of Expenditure (DoE), to extend the execution timeline for projects proposed by states under the ‘Special Assistance to States for Capital Investment for FY 2022-23’ scheme, especially Part V, involving the scope of extending last mile connectivity using OFC. This would help ensure that the planned development efforts in the region are not disrupted or delayed due to the lack of project implementation time,” he added.