Tower operators seek spl treatment from electricity boards

Bhubaneswar: Terming power issues as a major challenge before them, telecom tower operators have sought special treatment from electricity supply outfits across the country to ensure efficiency in telecom sector.

“We want all state governments to direct their electricity boards to give special treatment to telecom sector and tower operators,” said Akhil Gupta, Chairman of Towers and Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA).

Power problem happens to be a major challenge before the telecom sector in different parts, particularly eastern region, said Gupta who was here to participate in a workshop organised by the TAIPA.

Gupta, who happens to be the Vice Chairman of Bharti Group and Executive Chairman of Bharti Infratel Limited, said the tower operators are keen to create a robust telecom infrastructure in eastern region for which proper availability of power is essential.

While the power scenario in Odisha happens to be highly satisfactory, in some other states telecom tower operators are hit by non-availability of electricity or erratic supply, he said.

Another challenge before the telecom tower operators in the region has been insurgency and Maoist menace in the region, Gupta said adding that there has been considerable improvement in the situation in recent times following effective steps taken in the states.

Stating that the number of towers sites in eastern region at present stood at 77,855, he said this needs to double by April 2018 to 2 lakh tower sites.

While marching towards achieving the goal of installing the desired number of towers, the operators often face restriction on location of cell sites, high fees being levied apart from multiple levies like registration, sharing and renewal, said a senior TAIPA functionary.

Delay in getting clearances and requirement of multiple NOCs from various departments also affect the work of telecom tower operators in the region, he said.

The region also witnesses frequent fibre cuts, high incidence of taxes on cellular towers and complicated, cumbersome and time consuming procedures, said Gupta and other TAIPA officials.

Some of the common issues faced by telecom tower operators in the eastern region are restrictions of tower installation near water bodies, schools, hospitals, religious places, railways, high tension electrical lines and heritage sites, they said.

Optimistic about expanding their network, Gupta said states like Odisha have been extending necessary cooperation and assistance to the telecom tower operators in a dynamic manner.