To address telecom sector’s woes, the Department of Telecom has notified uniform rules for the rollout of mobile and cable networks across the country that aim to facilitate installation of towers, laying of cables in a time-bound manner and on non-discretionary basis.
Expeditious roll out of telecom infrastructure will help improve quality of service, reduce call drops as well as cost of setting up networks.
According to the notification, the authorities involved in granting Right of Way or RoW permit will have to grant permission within 60 days of application. In case of rejection of the application, they should record reasons in writing.
If the authority concerned does not reply within 60 days of application submission by telecom operator, the approval for right of way “shall be deemed to have been granted”, as per the rules notified by DoT.
To check arbitrary fee levied by various agencies on network rollout, authorities have been barred from imposing any fee, charge, lease rental, licence fee other than the expense that they would incur as consequence of the proposed work.
Every application under the rule “shall be accompanied with such fee to meet administrative expenses for examination of the application and the proposed work as the appropriate authority may, by general order, deem fit”, the notification said.
Such fee to meet administrative expenses “shall not exceed one thousand rupees (Rs 1000) per kilometer”, it said.
Telecom operators have often blamed local authorities in states for creating unnecessary hurdles in rollout of infrastructure, specially in granting RoW permission.
Most of the complaints have been made regarding abnormally high price for RoW as well as different levies or fee imposed by various authorities other than charges prescribed under telecom licences. In some cases, the charges have been as high as Rs 7 crore per kilometre for laying underground cables.
However, the notification said that authorities concerned may impose cost of restoring damage caused to road or other infrastructure as result of laying cable or installing any other telecom network equipment.
“The licensee (Telecom operator) shall, while making the application, give a specific commitment on whether he undertakes to discharge the responsibility for restoration, to the extent reasonable and prudent, of the damage that the appropriate authority shall necessarily be put in consequence of the work proposed to be undertaken,” the notification said. (MORE) PTI PRS MBI MR 11182016
Telecom operator seeking ROW permission will have to either make the payment of expenses or submit the bank guarantee within 30 days from the date of grant of permission and prior to the commencement of work of laying the underground telegraph infrastructure, the notification said.
Telecom company will also have to put measures to mitigate public inconvenience and provide for public safety while carrying out the project.
To expedite permission process, the appropriate authority will have to develop an electronic application process within a period of one year from the date of coming into force of these rules for submission of applications, the notification added.