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Trai’s suggestion to waive RoW charges to reduce network rollout cost: COAI

Telecom regulator Trai’s recommendation to waive right of way charges for the next five years will significantly reduce the overall cost of network rollout for companies, industry body COAI said on Monday.


The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had on August 31 recommended to the government to coordinate with state governments to waive right of way (RoW) charges for next five years (2022-23 to 2027-28) for expeditious laying of common ducts and posts.

Telecom operators and infrastructure providers need to take permission from various authorities for laying optical fibre, installing mobile towers, among others, for which the central government has framed a right of way policy and notified it in 2016 after consultation with states and union territories.

Trai further said the Centre should simultaneously ensure that during these five years, RoW charges for laying common ducts and posts shall be exempted for the central government departments and agencies as well.

The regulator said the move will provide an impetus for the growth of fixed-line broadband across the country when the nation is stepping into its 75th year of Independence.

“TRAI’s thrust on resolution of RoW issues is much needed. The recommendation for exemption of RoW charges for the next five years — from FY 2022-23 to FY 2027-28 — will significantly reduce the overall cost of roll-out for TSPs (telecom service providers).

“Another recommendation on National RoW portal is a big step for the Indian Telecommunication Industry. It will usher transparency in decision making and also boost the roll-out of services,” COAI said in a statement.

Trai has recommended that the central government should develop a web-based national portal for RoW permissions within a year which should have clearly roles defined for the central, state and local body authorities.

Telecom players have often complained that they face challenges in getting permissions from local authorities and various government departments.

They have also said that authorities across several states do not follow the RoW rules notified by the Centre.

COAI Director General S P Kochhar lauded the Trai recommendations, including expeditious auction of spectrum for 5G services and providing radiowaves for connecting mobile towers with others.

“These steps will go a long way in boosting India’s 4G services and infrastructure, and in paving the way for the smooth roll out of 5G services in India in the near future. We are confident that the suggestions provided by TRAI will be duly considered and implemented by the central government,” Kocchar said.

COAI further said the sector’s financial health has to be safeguarded and these recommendations will boost the viability of the industry to meet the investment expectations.

The regulator has also recommended providing direct benefit transfer of up to Rs 200 per user in rural areas to increase broadband adoption as well as incentives to telecom players for incremental increase in overall broadband connections. PTI

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