The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released its recommendations on the consultation paper titled “Use of Street Furniture for Small Cells and Aerial Fibre Deployment”. The regulator has recommended that all central government entities should earmark dedicated spaces in their existing and planned buildings for installing digital connectivity infrastructure, including small and macro cells. In addition, TRAI also noted that the street furniture should be shared among telecom firms and has stressed on the need to further amend the right of way (RoW) rules.

The regulator has also asserted that as India plans to launch 5G, small cells can play a pivotal role in network upgradation and expansion. The regulator has reiterated its earlier recommendations on formation of National Fiber Authority (NFA) in priority and that the scope of NFA should be expanded beyond common ducts and telegraph posts, to undertake responsibilities related to above-ground contrivances, appliances, and apparatus.

Moreover, to nudge service provider for sharing infrastructure, TRAI has recommended that charges paid by lessee telecom service provider (TSP) to lessor TSP for use of shared infrastructure should be reduced from the gross revenues of the lessor TSP to arrive at applicable gross revenue (ApGR) of such lessor TSP. Meanwhile, specifics for implementing the same have also been recommended.

In its recommendations, TRAI further noted that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) should issue advisory guidelines to states for mandating controlling administrative authorities (CAA) that own traffic lights to share these assets with telecom firms and IP-1 infrastructure providers for deployment of small cells. It has also been recommended that enabling provisions should be introduced in licenses prohibiting telcos and IP-1 providers from entering into any exclusive contract or RoWs with infrastructure owners or CAAs or any other authority.

Lastly, with regard to power issues and solutions, TRAI recommended that all distribution companies (DISCOMs) should treat street furniture address as commercial address for the purpose of providing a power connection and allow multiple power connections at the same commercial address to different commercial entities.