India has officially launched a new centralised portal, Gati Shakti Sanchar, to facilitate faster right of way or RoW clearances, enabling a speedier rollout of 5G networks in the country. The new portal, which will also get legal backing, will help reduce the time taken for RoW related clearances by almost a fifth compared to several months in the previous set-up.
The new portal will allow Indian telecom operators to obtain faster clearances to lay optic fibre cables and set up cellular towers and small cells for their upcoming 5G services. The online platform offers a unified, integrated, centralised approach covering all 36 states and UTs, and central government ministries.
‘“…where earlier it took around 100 days to obtain RoW clearances, the portal will reduce the time to 22 days,” the country’s telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said.
The portal has already onboarded 34 states and union territories and has received more than 50,000 RoW applications, out of which around 28,000 have been approved.
The government said that the new platform aims to reduce the days involved in getting stipulated permissions and bring down network deployment-related costs and facilitate ease of doing business for players in the Indian telecom market.
Vaishnaw said there is a need for legal provisions for Right of Way to settle disputes and facilitate coordination between industry and various agencies. He said that a strong legal backing would be put in place by December.
The RoW rules are currently based on an administrative process, and a strong legal backing is required to empower local officials, bring clarity to the fee structure, and fix accountability, the minister informed Indian media.
“That will be our next step. Moreover, all the portals that are there, especially Gati Shakti portal, railway portal, highway portal, and others…integration of those…We will be working on these two technological and legal aspects,” Vaishnaw said.
He further informed that the government had started the integration of portals, which is expected to be completed in the next 3-4 months.
“The timely disposal of RoW applications of various service and infrastructure providers shall enable speedy infrastructure creation which would be an enabler for timely rollout of 5G networks,” he said.
The portal will act as an enabler to the objective of ‘ease of doing business’ for telecommunications infrastructure. He added that the timely disposal of RoW applications of various service and infrastructure providers would enable speedy network creation, catalysing the timely rollout of 5G.
The portal is developed by the Madhya Pradesh State Electronics Development Corporation. It includes a dashboard for tracking applications and a helpline number for telcos.
“The launch of Gati Shakti – Sugam Sanchar Portal is a milestone which will enable the Government’s vision for ‘Digital India’. It is an important step towards making a robust mechanism to achieve the goal of “Broadband to All” as envisaged in the National Digital Communication Policy-2018’,” Lt. Gen. Dr SP Kochhar, Director General, COAI, said in a statement.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) represents Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, along with gear makers.
To enhance digital services and the forthcoming roll-out of 5G services in India, the country requires the densification of mobile networks. Facilitation of the national digital infrastructure development is one of the key areas of focus for the DoT.
“We are happy to note that the Portals already developed by State Governments will be integrated with the Gati Shakti Sanchar portal. This will help the States/UTs/Central Agencies who have not developed their own Portal to use the Gati Shakti Sanchar portal for processing the applications filed by TSPs/IPs for the deployment of Digital Infrastructure,” Kochhar added.