The amendment prescribes a one-time compensation of Rs 1,000 per kilometre for laying overhead OFC which will lead to a uniform levy/fee charged by the local authorities. The RoW Rules until now covered only underground OFC and mobile towers.
“These amendments will ease RoW-related permission procedures for establishment and augmentation of digital communications infrastructure across the country,” a statement issued by the DoT said. It added that with a robust pan-India digital infrastructure, the digital divide between rural-urban and rich-poor would be bridged.
Telecom industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) termed the move “progressive” and said: “…this directive stipulates that necessary infrastructure be built at the lowest logistical costs”. The COAI has Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio Infocomm as its members.
Another industry body, the Digital Infrastructure Providers Association or DIPA (formerly TAIPA), which represents tower companies, said the amendment had clearly laid the framework for laying overhead OFC and thus would go a long way in creating necessary infrastructure to cater to the forthcoming 5G rollouts.
Explaining the significance of the amendment, the DIPA highlighted that optical fibre was a fundamental and structural part of both mobile and fixed broadband networks. Faster rollout of fibre was important for backhauling a large amount of data at high throughput, improving reliability, and reducing latency.
It said fiberisation of telecom networks was essential to achieving universal broadband connectivity at 50Mbps to every citizen.