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IP-1s gear up to tap new emerging opportunities, says TAIPA at its third AGM

September 27, 2018
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The Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA), industry association for telecom infrastructure providers including Bharti Infratel, ATC towers, Indus towers, GTL Infrastructure, Reliance Infratel, and Tower Vision hosted its third Annual General Meeting 2018 themed as “Infrastructure Providers 2.0: Making India Digitally Ready”.


The AGM was attended by the telecom minister and senior government officials from DoT, TRAI, and state government officials who shared their thoughts on Infrastructure Providers role in Making India Digital Ready.

The leaders at AGM 2018 deliberated and emphasised on the proactive role of Infrastructure Providers to facilitate a robust telecom infrastructure for smooth rollout of newer technologies such as 5G, IoT, M2M, IoT, AR and VR etc., thereby making India digitally ready.

The AGM theme signifies the evolution of new business opportunities that the IP-1 will foray into such as street level infrastructure, in-building solutions, infrastructure for smart cities, common ducts, fiberisation etc. that will accelerate deployment of telecom infrastructure and give fillip to the realisation of visionary programs of the Government of India like Digital India, Smart Cities and BharatNet.

There is a need for enhancement of scope of the IP-1s as it would result in cost efficiencies by leveraging the sharing concept to the newer business model such as leasing out common duct, fiber, etc. on a non-discriminatory basis. For example, sharing of towers have resulted in potential savings of Rs 230 billion (since 2006) due on capex savings for creation of telecom infrastructure.

Manoj Sinha, Minister of State for Communication (I/C) and Minister of State for Railways said “The tower industry enabled a rapid growth in telecom subscribers as the number of telecom towers have increased from a meagre 100,000 towers in 2006 to well over 471,000 currently.  The industry currently boasts a tenancy ratio of over 2 and have about 1.8 million BTSs installed on their towers. The Indian tower industry introduced a unique ‘infrastructure sharing’ model which has many benefits like reduced capex and opex, increased connectivity, faster roll-out and, energy efficiency, which offers a “ready-to-go solution” to operators helping in building a scalable and successful Indian business model which is proven and is now being emulated world over including China.  The same is also a case study at Harvard Business School. The robust telecom infrastructure will help implementation of the visionary programmes like Jan-DhanYojna, My Gov online, Make in India, Digital India, Smart Cities, Financial inclusion, Direct Benefit Transfers, etc.”

Further, Sinha added “The upcoming NTP-2018 will be a forward-looking policy and will enable the sector to have a successful future.  Our special focus is on fiberising of towers, which will enable newer technologies to come into play like FTTH, IBS, DAS, etc.  Implementation of Smart Cities projects across the country will give a fillip to the way the telecom sector will enable everyone in everyday lives from smart homes, smart traffic management systems, smart waste management, etc.”

While addressing the AGM, Akhil Gupta, Chairman, TAIPA and Vice Chairman of Bharti Group and Executive Chairman of Bharti Infratel Limited said “We appreciate the unconditional support from the Department of Telecommunication and TRAI since the inception of Indian Tower Industry. The Government has placed a lot of thrust on making the emerging technologies like 5G, IoT, M2M and AI accessible to the consumers. Fiber will be crucial to meet the increasing consumer demands as ‘data’ is going to be the mainstream. India has only 25% of the telecom tower are fiberised whereas in USA, China and Japan have more than 75-80% of the telecom towers fiberised to meet the growing data demands. The enhancement of scope of the infrastructure Providers is essential and critical part of the overall telecom ecosystem which will boost the adoption of technologies of the future to make India Digitally ready.”

At present, about 25 percent of mobile towers in India are fiberised and to extend high-speed internet connectivity around 75-80 percent of mobile towers will have to fiberised to match the global benchmark of countries like United States, China and Japan. The draft NDCP 2018 also emphasizes on fiberisation of 60% of the BTSs.

During the welcome address, Tilak Raj Dua, Director General, TAIPA said “Infrastructure Providers will continue to play a pivotal role in infrastructure expansion for establishing ubiquitous connectivity for emerging technologies. The enhancement of scope of infrastructure providers can extensively facilitate the development of robust telecom infrastructure and is much needed. Deploying next generation infrastructure such as Street Level Smart Infrastructure, Intelligent Poles, Micro Sites, In-building Solutions and Public Wi-Fi hotspots etc., will make India Digitally ready.The infrastructure players are also contributing towards the marginalised sections of the society through their various CSR activities as well as going beyond the call of duty to restore services during the time of natural calamities to keep the networks up and running.”

The industry has adopted a slew of initiatives to reduce the diesel consumption at the telecom tower sites. Initiatives such as diesel free sites (sites consuming one litre diesel a day), conversion of sites from indoor to outdoor, energy efficient storage solutions such as Li-ion batteries, and renewable energy solutions are increasingly being deployed to ensure uninterrupted power supply and minimize the use of diesel at sites.

Regarding the implementation of Right of Way rules 2016, it was shared during the AGM that around 10 states have aligned their policies with the said rules. While for others, the association is in active discussions.

Further, Dua said “We would like to thank DoT and TRAI for including Infrastructure Providers under the purview of Right of Way rules, 2016. The positive development will lead to higher momentum in the rollout of telecom infrastructure. Also, it is worth highlighting that with the rigorous follow-ups and serious efforts the industry could get 10 states aligned with the said rules and is in active discussion for others.

Dr. R.S. Sharma, Chairman – TRAI highlighted that the scope and boundaries of the existing registration regime needs to be expanded to allow them to lead and deliver in the era of this digital transformation. Further, he also added that the digital transformation is becoming more of a reality than just being a concept. To spread the impact and unlock its true potential, there is a need to create smart and robust telecom infrastructure to cater to the next generation of technologies.

The AGM was graced by Ministers and Senior Government officials from DOT, TRAI, and State Government officials who shared their thoughts on Infrastructure Providers role in Making India Digital Ready.

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