Plan to install mobile towers at post offices faces hurdle

India Post asks telecom companies to pay more than market rates

The government’s plan to allow telecom companies to install mobile towers on post office buildings across the country, a strategic move to counter the call drop menace, has got stuck as India Post wants telecom firms to pay more than the market rates at many of its locations.

Ironically, India Post, which has over 1.55 lakh post offices across the country, has drafted steep rentals for telecom companies to install mobile towers on their post office premises or rooftops, which has dampened the interests of the telcos.

Industry sources said telecom companies had expected some relief from steep rentals which they have to pay due to high taxes charged by local government bodies across the country.

“But that does not seem to be happening. We had to close down some mobile towers due to exorbitant taxes levied against the installation of mobile towers by local government bodies,” said an industry official.

Telecom companies have complained that about 7,000 to 10,000 tower sites have been locked or shut down across major urban centres and have urged a national policy for the installation of mobile owners.

The government had directed the department of posts (DoP) to identify locations at its post offices where such mobile towers could be installed. But India Post is yet to submit its report.

Telecom companies have already submitted their plan to the department of telecommunications (DoT) regarding their requirement for erecting mobile towers across the country.

Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had already discussed the issue with the DoP in early October this year. He had asked DoP to prepare a roadmap as to how they would make it happen.

Generally, post offices are in prime locations and renting their space to telcos for installing mobile towers would help raise funds for loss-making India Post.

The lack of mobile towers has been the main reason behind call drops and the government has taken a policy decision where all government buildings must allow installation of towers.

Prasad has also written letters to chief ministers to facilitate telcos to install mobile towers on government buildings, but that has not yielded much. As a result, call drops, which started around January this year, continue unabated.

The minister had on Saturday said the government will continue to be tough on service quality and telcos will need to further strengthen voice quality and improve infrastructure. The minister stated that if regulators and government insist that the telecom companies have to provide a certain quality of services, then they need to oblige.

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