Delhi mobile operators likely to see service deterioration over new tower installation issue

By: |
January 28, 2021 2:05 AM

The rates have been increased to Rs 5 lakh for five-years as compared to Rs 2 lakh for five-years earlier. The revised rates will force telecom operators to shell out Rs 120 crore for putting towers in NDMC areas for five years.

telecom sector pli schemeRepresentational image

Mobile operators in Delhi may face deterioration of services as installation of new towers in the capital has come to a halt for the past over two months with the portal set up to take applications lying defunct most of the times. The telcos are also complaining about the 150% increase in permission fee for installing towers by the municipal corporations of Delhi.

The rates have been increased to Rs 5 lakh for five-years as compared to Rs 2 lakh for five-years earlier. The revised rates will force telecom operators to shell out Rs 120 crore for putting towers in NDMC areas for five years.

It must be mentioned that apart from the permission fee, telcos need to pay rentals to the tenants. Usually, the rental for Delhi ranges anywhere from Rs 25,000 per tower to Rs 50,000 per tower, depending on the locality. Apart from that, companies need to spend on electricity and diesel to run the mobile towers.

The telecom industry has strongly objected to the increase in charges by the municipal bodies and already two meetings have taken place between the stakeholders, including officials of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and local bodies. However, so far, no solution has been arrived at. The telcos are soon going to write to DoT, expressing their concerns regarding the hiked rates.

TR Dua, director-general, Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA) said, “This arbitrary increase in the fee by NDMC & SDMC is a violation of the settlement agreement between MCD and the telecom industry which was signed under the direction of the High Court in January 2020.”

The association said for the past three years till now, the towers have not been regularised as per the settlement agreement by MCDs and now this sudden arbitrary increase in the fee “is shocking and surprise to the industry”. As per the new hefty revised rates, around `120 crore need to be shelled out by the telcos for putting a mobile tower in NDMC areas for five years.

TAIPA said it has been actively pursuing with the Government of Delhi with support of DoT regarding the formulation of a uniform telecom infrastructure/right of way (RoW) policy for Delhi. The DoT had already passed the RoW rules in 2016 and most of the states have adopted the new guidelines.

“As the industry is already under acute financial stress, NDMC & SDMC continues to levy hefty fees for granting permissions for the installation of mobile towers and it is a direct contravention of RoW rules, November 2016,” TAIPA said.

As per the circulars issued by the municipal corporations, a copy of which has been seen by Financial Express, permission fee for installation of rooftop tower/ground-based tower/ground-based mast and rooftop pole is revised to Rs 10,000 per month or `1 lakh per annum, lump-sum in advance. In the case of sharing, 25% extra will be applicable per sharing in either mode of payment.

Further, every application shall be accompanied with a onetime fee of Rs 10,000 to meet administrative expenses for examination of the application.

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