Lack Of A Comprehensive Tower Policy To Cost Karnataka : TAIPA

The state of Karnataka is staring at missing the digital bus the whole country is riding on in the absence of a comprehensive telecom tower policy. In a such a scenario the state might fail to offer its citizens, including the industry, the benefits of new technologies such as 5G, IoT, virtual reality and artificial intelligence, feels TAIPA, the association that represents telecom tower firms.

“Karnataka will lag behind due to the absence of comprehensive mobile tower policy; and the current draft tower policy is pending for notification for more than 2 years,” said TAIPA in a statement.

The state currently has more than 29000 mobile towers and needs to double these numbers in order to address the growing data demands. But it has become difficult to set up new towers as the current guidelines have many challenges a new policy is yet to be notified.

“The Draft of the Karnataka Government on installation of new “Telecommunication Infrastructure Towers Regulations, 2015” is still pending for notification,” alleges TAIPA, adding that it also has lot of drawbacks.

“The state of Karnataka should align its draft policy with the Right of Way rules issued in November 2016 by the Department of Telecommunication to ensure deployment of critical telecom tower infrastructure. Issues such as call drops, network outage and connectivity gaps etc. are being faced by the users’ due to the absence of comprehensive mobile tower installation policy,” said Tilak Raj Dua, Director General, TAIPA. “We hope the new government will certainly address these issues and facilitate robust telecom infrastructure in the state.”

The association says the draft tower policy imposes restriction on the location of towers such as no mobile tower can be installed near water bodies, railway properties, electrical lines, airport, defense establishments and Oil/ Gas Pipelines etc.

Besides, the draft policy also imposes requirement of multiple documents for clearance such as Completion Certificate, Sanctioning Plan of the Building, etc. and lags provision of single window clearance as laid under the rules of Central Government.

Further, the association adds that the draft Karnataka tower policy is not aligned with the Right of Way rules, 2016 issued by central government.

“The registration fee ranges from Rs. 50,000 to 10,000 whereas it is prescribed as 10,000 rupees for administrative expenses under the Right of Way rules, 2016 notified by Central Government,” it added.

Some other Indian states such as Kerala, Jharkhand, Haryana, Odisha, Rajasthan and Assam have aligned their tower policies with the central government guidelines.

Further, Dua added “The development of robust telecom infrastructure is the bedrock for state to leapfrog towards Smart and Digital Karnataka. This is because all the transformational reforms such as Digital India, e-governance, Smart Cities and cashless economy etc. depends upon the connectivity provided by telecom infrastructure. Hence, we are sure that State authorities would align their state policy with RoW policy dated November 2016 which will eventually help realising the dream of Digital India.”

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