There has been another regulatory shift in India as the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has adjusted its stance on infrastructure installation in response to industry requests. The DoT is also being asked to intervene in the ongoing debt issues facing two state-owned operators.
Specifically, the government has relaxed radiation norms for the installation of new mobile towers and upgrading of existing cell sites. The DoT will now give service providers 30 days to self-certify compliance after commissioning of new mobile towers or upgrading of existing units.
This comes in the wake of a request by industry body the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) to relax the rules given the ongoing lockdown that makes site visits difficult. The DoT has agreed but pointed out that the relaxation will be temporary.
Meanwhile DoT intervention has been requested in another case as network suppliers, including Nokia, ZTE and Bharti Infratel, have asked it to get involved in clearing outstanding debts owed by the state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL).
The COAI recently wrote to telecommunications secretary Anshu Prakash, highlighting the delays and breach of contract commitments by the public sector companies and seeking DoT intervention to get them to release their outstanding dues towards a number of equipment manufacturers and infrastructure providers.
While BSNL and MSNL have made some progress towards cleared their outstanding debts, notably to their own employees, the COAI estimated total outstanding dues from these state-controlled companies at around $2.6 billion.