The high-speed 5G services, which will be available in most part of the country in two-three years, are expected to remain affordable, telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Thursday.
The minister, while launching a 5G right of way application portal to facilitate expeditious roll-out of telecom infrastructure, said that mobile services in India are one of the most affordable in the world and he expects the trend to continue for 5G services as well.
"We expect investment of around Rs 2.5-3 lakh crore to come into the industry. Rs 3 lakh crore is a big investment. This is also leading to good employment generation. Our estimate is 5G will reach almost all parts of the country in the next 2-3 years," Vaishnaw said.
He said that telecom companies are busy laying infrastructure and 5G services should be launched by October and then scaled up at a very rapid pace.
The government has also notified new Right of Way Rules which clarifies charges to be levied on laying of telecom cables, accessing street furniture like electric poles and boundary walls etc.
According to the Indian Telegraph Right of Way (Amendment) Rules, 2022, telecom companies will not require any approval from authorities for laying cables or installing mobile towers or poles over private properties.
"Earlier it took 343 days for RoW approvals, which has now come down to 22 days. Last July, the average is even better which is 16 days. This is clear impact of reforms undertaken by the prime minister," Vaishnaw said.
Telecom companies using street furniture for the installation of small cells will be required to pay Rs 300 per annum in urban areas and Rs 150 per annum in rural areas per street furniture, as per the notification.
For installing cable using street furniture, telecom companies will be required to pay Rs 100 per annum per street furniture, according to the notification.
The minister said the industry has informed that India has one of the most affordable telecom services and the same trend will be there for 5G services.
"The reforms in spectrum and reduction in cost of ROW, both steps have ultimately reduced the cost of industry. We have clearly requested the industry to keep 5G prices very reasonable. The information that we have received that till date India has the most affordable services as per ITU ranking. Same trend will be maintained in 5G," Vaishnaw said.
The minister said that based on feedback from industry, investments to the tune of Rs 50,000-60,000 crore have been made and most of the investments out of Rs 3 lakh crore will be made in the next 18-24 months.
"It is very important to note that industry is giving equal importance to rural areas and urban areas. This is in line with our government's vision," Vaishnaw said.
On the steps taken by the government, industry body COAI said that as the country is set to witness the 5G technology, The Indian Telegraph Right of Way (Amendment) Rules, 2022 will ensure the speedy roll-out of the technology and make the dream of 5G enabled India come true.
"Access to the existing infrastructure, deployment of new infrastructure and the high cost involved in it were major challenges the telecom sector always came across, which will now be eased down. We are also elated to have 5G RoW application form on GatiShakti Sanchar Portal, which is again a positive sign to speed up the installation process of digital infrastructure," COAI director general S P Kochhar said.