People in the national capital may face a rise in call drops and slow internet as MCD has sealed 566 mobile towers, industry body TAIPA said on Tuesday. There are 11,500 mobile towers installed in Delhi and 1,150 more are required for seamless coverage but they have been pending for the want of permission, it said.
Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA) said in a statement that the towers have been sealed “despite the fee deposit of 48 crore rupees lying with municipal corporations”. It said the MCD move impacts the overall ease of doing business, development of a robust telecom infrastructure and addressing the growing the data needs of customers.
“…suo-moto coercive actions on sealing the mobile towers leads to solemn issues such as slow internet speed, network congestion and call drops etc. The overall regressive act impacts the ease of doing business and forms a misconception that the industry is not making adequate investments,” TAIPA Director General Tilak Raj Dua said.
MCD and telecom sector players have been at loggerheads over fee to be charged from tower companies for installing and operating sites. Dua said that the telecom tower industry has held numerous meetings with municipal corporations of Delhi to discuss the implementation of mediation settlement and the issues industry have been facing for more than 8 years now.
The Delhi tower policy, 2010 was challenged by the telecom industry in Delhi High Court imposing issues such as exorbitant permission fee of Rs 5 lakhs for 5 years and Rs 1 lakh per service provider for sharing and restriction on locations.
A mediation settlement on reference of Delhi High Court was signed by the industry with the municipal corporations in January 2017 offering provisions such as deemed approval for 30 days, appointment of nodal officers, documentation as per DoT guidelines, 2013 and fee part was also renegotiated to Rs 1 lakh to 2 lakhs and revised guidelines to be issued in line with DoT advisory guidelines, 2013.
“However, even after a year, the mediation settlement has still not been implemented down the line with the municipal corporations and have resulted into the sealing of critical infrastructure amounting to Rs 113 crores approximately and no new permissions have been processed for the installation of telecom infrastructure,” the statement said.
The industry body said that all the municipal commissioners have issued directions for the implementation of mediation settlement agreement however representatives of various departments down the line are conspicuous in following the same.
“Non-implementation of mediation settlement and lack of comprehensive tower policy in Delhi is creating knotty situations for the development of a robust telecom infrastructure. It is the high time that the telecom infrastructure need to be treated as the essential critical infrastructure like others such as Roads, Transport and water supplies etc,” Dua said.
He said that there is an immediate need to notify a comprehensive mobile tower policy for enabling speedy installation of telecom infrastructure in Delhi in order to make the city a world-class super-fast internet metropolitan.