Pune, 9th February 2022: Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the leading industry body of telecom operators of India, has sought the support of the Maharashtra Government to avoid network outages across Pune.
To accomplish the target of the National Broadband Mission and for the realization of the ‘Gati Shakti’ mission by the Government of India, Telecom Service Providers have laid aerial OFCs across Maharashtra including Pune in compliance with all the requirements and conditions of the License issued by DoT as per the governing legal framework for the OFCs/ROWS. However, Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has now issued letters/notices to TSPs (directly or through its vendors) and cable TV operators demanding payment of charges (including penalty) for regularization of aerial OFCs within its municipal limits. It appears that such demand is based on resolutions passed by the Standing Committee and the General Body of PMC.
Uninterrupted telecom connectivity is essential not only for continuity of business and economy but also for the education of children and management of health infrastructure, particularly in light of the present grim situation arising out of the exponential surge of COVID-19 infections across India. Extensive laying of OFCs has commenced and is still underway by our member Telecom Service Providers (TSPs). However, inconsistency and uncertainty in ROW policy are hindering the roll-out of telecom infrastructure across Pune.
The Maharashtra State Telecom Infrastructure Policy dated 17th February 2018 does not have provision for the deployment of aerial fibre in the State (as prescribed in Indian Telegraph RoW Rules 2016 issued by DoT), thus levy being imposed by PMC for regularisation of OFC is arbitrary and unjustified in the absence of any framework for the deployment of aerial fibre under the aegis of RoW Rules 2016.
COAI had already requested Maharashtra Government that in view of the absence of a framework for laying of overhead OFC network, the State Government/local authorities may first initiate the process of establishing the framework for aerial OFCs under the aegis of the ROW Rules.
Lt Gen Dr SP Kochhar (retd), Director General, COAI said, “We are committed to provide uninterrupted connectivity to the citizens of India under National Broadband Mission of Government of India and work extensively along with the Govt. for the realization of the Gati Shakti initiative. However, the industry is facing issues in Pune due to the absence of a framework for laying overhead OFC network and exorbitant money being demanded by PMC for laying/regularisation of Telecom Infrastructure. We have sought the support of Maharashtra Government for their urgent intervention to ensure the convenience of the citizens and avoid any network disruption/outage”.
Further, it is imperative that any additional cost being incurred for deploying the Telecom Infrastructure i.e. aerial fibre in terms of levy/penalties might be passed on to the customers of the State as higher tariffs.
COAI has also requested for urgent intervention of Maharashtra State Government in the matter to take up this issue appropriately with Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to withdraw the demands made upon TSPs including its vendors/Infrastructure providers in respect of charges/penalties for aerial OFCs within its municipal limits of PMC. It has been submitted that PMC should not take any coercive action against the aerial OFCs to ensure the continuation of essential telecom services.
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