The government has announced new policy reforms in the satellite communications sector with a hope of accelerating the deployment of 5G towers. Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw believes that the current speed of deployment isn’t enough to ensure swift adoption of 5G.
Government Announces Satcom Reforms To Speed Up 5G Deployment
Vaishnaw stated that the looser restrictions will allow for streamlined clearance processes. This is expected to give a much-needed push to the rollout of satellite communication services in India. The government will introduce satcom reforms such as self-certification of antennas and mounting of VSAT on mobile vehicles. Furthermore, the NOCC process will be simplified to include a single-step procedure, reducing the timeline from 8 months to 6 weeks.
Before the reforms, a Standing Advisory Committee on Radio Frequency Allocation (SACFA) approval was required for the height and location of telecom towers. This will not be the case anymore, as Vaishnaw explains, “For street furniture, SACFA clearances are not required and companies can apply on Saral Sanchar portal by paying mere ₹100. The right of way clearances have come down from 227 days to only 7 days now.”
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Additionally, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has delicensed the 865 to 868 MHz spectrum band for IoT and M2M, 433 to 434.7MHz as well as 9 to 30MHz for wireless charging. Delicensed spectrum can be assigned administratively and there’s no need for an auction.
DoT has also released a central policy roadmap called the National Frequency Allocation Plan (NFAP) – 2022. The plan specifies future spectrum usage by bodies such as the DoT, I&B ministries, defence, Department of Space (DoS), and more.
Vaishnaw said the NFAP is a “master document for spectrum allocation and planning for industry as well as policymaking. We’ll place this before the industry and the country.”
The Ball Is In Telcos’ Court
The minister stressed that currently, only 2,500 5G towers are deployed every week, which is “very less.” He stated that at least 10,000 should be deployed weekly to boost the deployment of 5G in India. The minister added that the Indian government has brought in various reforms, and now telcos will have to step up their game and show their commitment towards 5G adoption.