Telecommunication sector has witnessed a phenomenal growth in the past two decades. The remarkable growth in the telecom arena is fuelled by a sound telecommunication infrastructure. Telecom towers are primarily the backbone for providing wireless telecommunication and related services to the masses. With nearly half a million towers housing 15 lakh BTSs are enabling connectivity to 1.2 billion people across the nation.
Telecom infrastructure built across the country is shared with the service providers on a non-discriminatory basis. Tower industry has undergone significant changes in the past and concepts like ‘Tower Sharing’ has emerged as a trendsetter. The concept has been time-tested with proven economic viability for the TSPs as well as IP-1s is now being emulated globally, having numerous advantages like Reduced Capex & Opex, Increased Connectivity, Faster Roll-out of Towers, Energy Efficiency, etc.
In the pre-2005 era when the Towers were being operated under integrated model (part of the Operators’ domain); there was no sharing of towers taking place. The TowerCos generated confidence in the TSPs due to their neutral nature and non-alignment of their business interests with any particular telecom service provider. Between 2007 and 2010, the number of towers rose from about 100,000 to 310,000; fueling an increase in tenancy ratio to 1.6 per tower. From 2010 till 2012, there has been aggressive growth by new operators, allowing TowerCos to reach the figure of 4.00 lac towers and boost their tenancy ratioof over ‘2’ with the focus more on operational improvements.
Green Telecom initiatives by the Tower industry includes conversion of indoor to outdoor BTS; FCU installations; advanced battery technologies for storage e.g. Li-ion; etc some of the key initiatives by the TowerCo industry leading to more than 90,000 Diesel-Free sites currently.
TAIPA, as the telecom tower industry representative body has played a major role in overcoming the infrastructure bottlenecks and regulatory upheavals. We as an association of leading telecom towers and infrastructure providers work towards establishing a healthy environment for the growth of telecommunication services in the countrydealing with a wide range of matters including Legal, Energy, Regulatory, State Policies, to Finance and Tax, etc which hinders the growth of telecom infrastructure in the country.
While we appreciate some of the Government’ proactive initiatives towards ensuring world-class telecom services for its citizens and enabling ease of doing business, there are a lot of regulatory and policy challenges/ uncertainties including retrograde steps especially towards provisioning of the much-needed telecom infrastructure which is very essential for proliferation of the ICT/ broadband.
We continue to engage in healthy discussions with the Licensor/ Regulator to address some of the pending issues, Tower industry seeks conducive and certain regulatory environment for the growth of this critical infrastructure industry. Issues like non-inclusion of IP-1s in the Right of Way Rules; non-availability of government premises to IP-1s for tower installation; Safety and security of critical telecom infrastructure; non-availability of ‘Infrastructure’ Status benefits to IP-1s; Exclusion of Telecom Towers from availing Input tax credit under GST Bill etc; Levy of Property Tax by treating mobile towers as land & building; etc are bottlenecks and impediments towards expediting necessary telecom infrastructure for broadband highways, and a truly connected nation.
Such restrictive, regressive and retrograde steps severely impact the confidence of investor community and especially at a time when the international community is looking upto India as the fastest growing economy in the world is totally uncalled for.
Since the past two years, due to the advent of newer technologies like Pole Sites, Small Cells, IBS, DAS, Street Furniture, etc the need for full-fledged GBTs/ RTTs have come down. Moreover, the industry is keen to take up sharable infrastructure for Wi-Fi off-loading, IBS/ DAS provisioning, etc to help and support the telecom service providers achieve Digital India. Such concepts are the need of the hour to provide world-class data connectivity and achieve exemplary consumer experience.
Realising all these developments and change are leading to a positive environment and is enabling tower industry, the base of telecommunication services, to fulfil government’s vision of connecting every citizen of the nation. As an important stakeholder of the telecom industry, we have a crucial role to play in enabling Prime Minister’s vision for 100 Smart Cities and Digital India as Telecom Infrastructure is the bedrock for this achievement. Hence, long-term assurances in the form of stable guidelines/ policies/ directives will create confidence in the investor community worldwide.
Therefore, in the coming years the industry is fully committed to implement Smart Cities/ Digital India program with some pending concerns having been addressed which will further foster the growth of telecom sector in the nation.Show more Show Less