The poor quality of telecom services in the country be it telephony or broadband services can be attributed to the states as they are not notifying their policies in line with DoT RoW (Right of Way) Rules framed in November 2016. A year has passed and till date around nine states – Rajasthan, Odisha, Jharkhand, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have notified their policies in line with DoT RoW Rules whereas three states – Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand are soon planning to notify in due course of time. So, in toto only 31 percent states have notified DoT RoW Rules whereas reply is awaited from majority states.
It is good to know that everybody wants good quality of service but they don’t understand the urgency of notifing their policies in line with DoT RoW Rules so that end consumer and corporates get benefited with this uniform RoW Policy framed by Department of Telecommunications in terms of better quality of telephony and broadband services. A closer look at the data will show that all southern states say Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Kerala except Karnataka have notified their policies in line with DoT RoW Rules as they are more forward looking in their approach and they know the necessity of RoW for telecom network.
Speaking about RoW Policy implementation in state, Tilak Raj Dua, Director General, TAIPA said, “The development of robust telecom infrastructure is the bedrock for achieving government’s transformational reforms such as Digital India, e-governance, smart cities and cashless economy etc. Also, it will addressing the critical issues such as call drop, network congestion, network outage and slow internet speed etc. Hence, it is important for the state authorities to align the existing policies with recent RoW Rules, 2016 notified by central government which will eventually help realising the dream of Digital India.”
Status of States Notifying Policies in Line with DoT RoW Rules:
States/Union Territories Policies notified and in line with DoT RoW Rules – Rajasthan, Odisha, Jharkhand, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
States/Union Territories Policies likely to be notified in line with DoT RoW Rules – Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand
States/Union Territories where discussions are ongoing for review of existing policy – Jammu & Kashmir, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, Sikkim, West Bengal, Delhi, Puducherry, Chandigarh, Daman, Diu, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep
Multiple submissions has been made by TAIPA as well as TRAI for implementation of DoT RoW Rules but there is no progress. The non-implementation of RoW policy, 2016 or DoT advisory guidelines at the state level throughout the year is impeded by the overall rollout of telecom infrastructure across the nation.
The states needs to understand that if RoW Policies is not in line with DoT RoW Rules, quality of telecom services in a particular state will only deteriorate and not improve as customer’s choice for data is increasing and operators have no other option but to fiberize their towers at the earliest so that quality of broadband and telephony services can improve in the long run.