Digital commission likely to clear pitch for broadband connectivity for all

The new policy is expected to be named as the ROW policy 2020.
The Digital Communications Commission is likely to approve the Union government's proposal for broadband connectivity for all in its meeting on Saturday.

The proposal will be in line with the announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15 to connect India’s over 600,000 villages with optical fibre network, and is likely to be completed in the next 1,000 days. High-speed internet connectivity via submarine optical fibre cable will also be extended to Lakshadweep in this period.

The mission will facilitate universal and equitable access to broadband services across the country, especially in rural and remote areas. It also involves laying of incremental 3 million route km of optical fibre cable and increase in tower density from 0.42 to 1 tower per 1,000 of population by 2024.

It is also learnt that apex telecom decision making body might take up the issue of setting up infrastructure by operators at border areas. Though there are clear cut demarcations for building such towers, sometimes companies do extend the infrastructure beyond permissible limits, causing security concerns, a person in the know said.

The amendment to the existing Right of Way policy might also be discussed. The new policy is expected to be named as the ROW policy 2020. Existing ROW rules, which came into effect in 2016, provide for a framework to give approvals and settle disputes in a time-bound manner, as well as improve coordination between companies and government authorities. These also allow online filing of applications, in a bid to ease the pain that the sector faces in building infrastructure.

Under the rules of the Indian Telegraph Act, local and state authorities would have to appoint nodal officers for implementing the rules to improve coordination between firms and authorities. Service providers or tower firms pay a one-time fee of Rs 10,000 with their application for meeting administrative expenses. Firms that lay fibre pay Rs 1,000 per kilometre.

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