The Telecom Infrastructure Industry with more than 5 Lakh mobile towers mounted with 20 lakh BTSs extends mobile telecommunication services to more than 1.1 billion subscribers. In the last year, the telecommunications industry added around 40,000 mobile towers with around 2 lakh 90 thousand BTSs. Undoubtedly, the Indian telecommunication sector has undergone a revolutionary transition in the last two decades to become the World’s second largest telecommunication market. As per the government report, the mobile sector’s contribution to GDP which is presently 6.5 percent and will increase to 8.2 percent by 2020.
The year 2018 was majorly the year of positive developments and synchronisation on the business, policy and regulatory front. The biggest good news was the inclusion of IP-1s under the purview of Right of Way Rules 2016 vide Office Memorandum dated 22 May 2018. Further, the year captured other significant developments such as the amendments in Gujarat policy ensuring level playing field, cancellation of discriminatory tender by Kozhikode corporation for deployment of high masts, IBS deployment in government buildings for seamless network connectivity and development of online single window portal by states like Jharkhand, Haryana and Assam and etc.
Further, the year 2018 witnessed the notification of NDCP 2018 which is an overarching forward looking and reformative comprehensive policy to transform India into a digital society by for enabling futuristic technologies such as expansion of 4G, 5G, fiberstation, cloud computing, block chain, M2M, IoT, AI, and VR etc. For infrastructure Providers, the policy included numerous provisions such as Enhancing scope of IP-1s, fibrisation of 75-80 percent towers to extend world class high-speed internet connectivity, extension of incentives and exemptions for the construction of telecom towers, safety and security of telecom towers and setting up National Fibre Authority etc.
However, on the other hand, the ease of doing business was hindered due to exclusion of telecom towers from availing Input Tax Credit under GST regime, levy of Property Tax by treating mobile towers as land & building, coercive actions such as OFC cable cutting and mobile tower sealing by states etc.
DoT has extensively supported the industry by organising a state level seminar for implementation of RoW rules to facilitate time-bound and hassle-free single-window clearances for the requisite backhaul etc. In the forthcoming time, If state aligns with the Centre’s ruling the development of robust telecom infrastructure will be seamless, which is the need of the hour for ubiquitous connectivity and new technologies such as 5G, IoT, M2M, AR and VR etc.
(To be attributed to Mr. Tilak Raj Dua, Director General, taipa)