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In a major move which will aid faster 5G rollouts, the telecom department amended right of way rules where cap has been fixed for deploying telecom infrastructure while a central government portal GatiShakti Sanchar will provide approvals required by any department or state government.  

Mint had first reported in April of policy changes in the telecom sector for right of way to streamline applications and permissions. The changes have been made to the Right of Way rules issued back in 2016.   

According to the amendments, caps have been set at 1000 per km for aerial optical fibre cable, 300 per annum for urban area, 150 per annum for rural areas per street furniture, 1000 per pole for the setting up small cells on poles. 

The department also launched the 5G RoW application form on the GatiShakti Sanchar Portal, which provides a common mechanism for all stakeholders including central and state government, central land-owning authorities such as railways and defence, local bodies, and service providers for deploying mobile towers and fibre. 

Telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that the changes will help in rapid scale up of 5G services in India that are expected to be launched by October.  

 “5G requires more towers, poles, fibre, and bandwidth. This will require the telecom industry to launch more telecom infrastructure. By October, 5G will be launching and then we will rapidly scale up to sub-urban and rural areas," he said. 

Industry lauded the move saying that the clarity for all stakeholders would provide huge relief to carriers.  

SP Kochhar, director general, COAI, said, “This will ensure the speedy roll-out of the technology and make the dream of 5G enabled India comes true. Access to the existing infrastructure, deployment of new infrastructure, and the high cost involved in it were major challenges the telecom sector always came across which will now be eased."  

He added that with 5G India will need more towers and the RoW rules will help incorporate provisions on small cell deployment and ensure uniform implementation of RoW rules across states, union territories, and municipal bodies. “This will further reduce approval timelines for small cells to 15-30 days, and no SACFA approvals would be required for small cells," he said. 

“These amendments in place now, will go a long way in creating necessary infrastructure to cater to forthcoming 5G rollouts in the country," said TR Dua, director general of Digital Infrastructure Providers Association.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gulveen Aulakh
Gulveen Aulakh is Senior Assistant Editor at Mint, serving dual roles covering the disinvestment landscape out of New Delhi, and the telecom & IT sectors as part of the corporate bureau. She had been tracking several government ministries for the last ten years in her previous stint at The Economic Times. An IIM Calcutta alumnus, Gulveen is fluent in French, a keen learner of new languages and avid foodie.
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