The Department of Telecom (DoT) has urged chief secretaries of states to facilitate easy movement of staff and field engineers of telecom companies to ensure uninterrupted connectivity and services.
The move comes amid stricter COVID-19 curbs across states as cases of the Omicron variant rise.
In a letter to all chief secretaries on Thursday, Telecom Secretary K Rajaraman emphasised the need for uninterrupted operations of telecom networks and infrastructure.
Rajaraman said staff, personnel and field engineers of communications and infrastructure providers should be exempt from the e-pass process, and that their movement be allowed on the basis of valid company ID under the ‘essential service category’.
“I therefore request that staff/personnel/field engineers of TSP (telecom service providers, ISPs (internet service providers), infrastructure providers (IP-1s) their partners (OEMs) and optical fibre maintenance entities may be exempted from e-pass process and movement is allowed on production of valid company ID card under essential service category,” Rajaraman wrote.
He further said people engaged in providing and maintaining such services be accorded permissions, including for travel by local trains, public and their personal transport.
Drawing attention to the “urgent” need of facilitating operations of telecom services to ensure connectivity without interruption, the telecom secretary mentioned that the DoT has received submissions from industry bodies like Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI), Digital Infrastructure Providers Association (DIPA), and ISP Association of India (ISPAI) to take up the matter with states and Union Territories.
“…telecom services being essential services, require all support so that telecom, broadband/internet services can be provided without interruption and telecom infrastructure are maintained, thereby enabling all of us to remain connected during any lockdown,” the letter said.
Millions of citizens are engaged in work from home and large number of traders run businesses via e-commerce platforms needing digital connectivity.
Meanwhile, industry body DIPA’s Director General T R Dua thanked the telecom secretary for the “prompt action”.
“Earlier today, DIPA has sought urgent intervention from the DoT so as to ensure round-the-clock telecoms connectivity amidst the backdrop of a looming third-wave of COVID-19,” DIPA said in a statement.
COAI too had urged the DoT for their support to write to chief secretaries/ administrators of states/UTs to allow movement of telecom staff for continuous connectivity.
“Telecom/Internet deployment, maintenance and operations are an essential part of the country’s information infrastructure as well as the backbone of work/study from home for the common people.
“Telecom/Internet infrastructure is also crucial in event of dissemination of the information to the public at large, financial transactions by the public and banks and public entertainment…,” COAI said in a statement.