Vijay C Roy
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, april 9
Internet usage and broadband traffic has surged by over 30% during the lockdown in Punjab, which at times clog the network leading to slow speed. Punjab is among the top five markets as far as data consumption is concerned. The average data consumption in Punjab was around 10,000 tera bytes per day before the lockdown.
The upsurge in Internet traffic has compelled the telecom operators to expand their infrastructure to meet the demand.
However, according to telecom tower operators, the current infrastructure or Right of Way policy of Punjab is not conducive for creating new infrastructure. They have requested the government to implement new policy on the pattern of Haryana, Maharashtra, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.
“With several organisations resorting to work-from-home culture and others adopting e-learning and e-services during the lockdown, the usage of Internet and broadband has increased,” said TR Dua, Director General, Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA).
Sources said subscribers of mobile and home broadband services in Punjab have seen their network speeds slowing down because of surge in the average data consumption, especially of videos. According to the sources, this is expected to get worse as Internet usage is expected to increase more if the lockdown is extended further.
“In order to cope with the increased traffic, the telecom network capacity will have to be enhanced quickly through addition of new telecom infrastructure such as towers and optical fibre cable and upgrade of existing infrastructure for seamless connectivity,” he added.
To facilitate seamless connectivity, the tower operators have demanded early notification of Draft Right of Policy 2018 of Punjab which is on the lines of national policy.
“The current telecom infrastructure or Right of Way policy of Punjab is not at all conducive for creating new infrastructure and upgrade of existing telecom network as charges are too high and it is not aligned with the Indian Telegraph Right of Way rules, November 2016 of the DoT,” Dua said.
The salient features of the Right of Way rules, November 2016 include one-time administration fee of up to Rs 10,000 per tower for telecom towers and up to Rs 1,000/km for optical fibre cable. It also has a single-window clearance mechanism. However, two policies exist in Punjab — one of 2013 and another of 2015 — where there are multiple charges varying between Rs 25,000 and Rs 50,000.
The industry has stressed that there is an urgent requirement of formulating a comprehensive uniform telecom infrastructure or Right of Way policy for Punjab in line with the national policy. This would help in expansion of network, installation of new telecom towers and optical fibre cables at rapid pace so as to meet the increased demand.
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