The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is in the process of formulating an affordable annual fee for use of street furniture for deployment of 5G infrastructure. To this end, the draft of the street furniture policy is almost ready and would be finalised once the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI’s) views on its consultation paper on the same issue will be out.

The street furniture would include street lights, electricity and other utility poles or any other street-level infrastructure that can house wireless equipment, mainly small cells to enable telecom player’s toolboxes to bring their networks closer to the end customers. The fee is likely to be in the range of Rs 200-300 per street light or electricity pole subject to the location (urban or rural areas).

The objective behind the move is to use various spaces in municipality buildings, post offices, bus, and railway stations for deployment of infrastructure which is critical to the success and adoption of 5G on a large scale.

Meanwhile, providing a single window clearance for approvals from various state bodies will also be part of the new policy to offer telecom players ease of business. The use of street furniture is an optimum way to deploy next generation telecom infrastructure to overcome right-of-way (RoW) challenges. TRAI recently floated a consultation paper on use of street furniture for small cell and aerial fibre deployment. The dense deployment of small cells was critical for mass adoption and availability of 5G services as higher bandwidths needed to be supplemented with more base stations for high quality 5G services.