National portal soon for infra RoW, Telecom News, ET Telecom approvals

New Delhi: The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is planning to soon launch a national portal for smooth clearance of various infrastructure approvals related to the right-of-way (RoW) – necessary for fiber laying – which are critically important ahead of the planned rollout of 5G services later this year.

“We are setting up a national portal for RoW so that there is a central one-stop-shop for entering applications and approvals etc. It will be connected in the backend to state portals or some states will be directly integrated. on our system,” Telecommunications Secretary K Rajaraman told ET.

He added that the portal is in the final stages of development. “This will allow all owners of IP-1 infrastructure who lay optical fibers for others, TSPs (telecom service providers), etc. to submit their applications online. The portal is in the testing phase and will be launched soon.

The existing policy on the right-of-way has been adopted by about 18 states and the rest of the states are also close to agreeing, the secretary said.

“Over the next three to four months, we will make significant progress on the issue of right-of-way once this portal is live,” Rajaraman said.

“Even with modest attendance at this auction, industry debt levels are still expected to rise to Rs. 4.8 lakh crore by March 2023, despite improved cash flow generation after tariff hikes as well as deleveraging initiatives undertaken by telecom operators,” said Ankit Jain, Assistant Vice President and Area Head – Business Valuations, ICRA Limited.

To facilitate the development of infrastructure, the DoT is in the process of formulating a street furniture policy in which telecommunications players will be able to use street furniture, including street lights, electricity and other utility poles or any other infrastructure at the street level that can house wireless equipment, mostly small cells, which will allow them to bring their networks closer to end customers.

The aim is to use various spaces in municipal buildings, post offices, bus and train stations for the deployment of infrastructure, which is essential for the success and adoption of 5G at scale, according to experts. Right-of-way issues have always been a challenge for the telecom industry and with the country on the cusp of launching 5G, infrastructure deployment is key to making it a success.

The use of higher frequency bands for 5G services would require macro cells to be complemented by widespread deployment of small cells to support all sorts of uses and applications in all locations.

TR Dua, Director General of DIPA, said the telecom department has taken a forward-looking approach that will help accelerate the rollout of 5G. “It will also enable the creation of a robust digital infrastructure which is an important part of the ecosystem for the launch of 5G.”

The official said the timelines are on track and the 5G auction should take place in May-June so that the first 5G services in the country can be launched on Independence Day. The telecommunications regulator on Monday recommended cutting the base price of premium 3.3-3.67 GHz waves by almost 36% and the price of the coveted 700 MHz spectrum by 40%.

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