Mobile phone towers look set to join 3G licensing and spectrum allocation as the next area of dispute in Indian telecoms.
GSM lobby group, the Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI), will go to court to protect the 250,000 GSM mobile masts installed around the country.
This follows the shutdown of more than 300 towers in Noida, a fast-growing satellite city of New Delhi, after authorities claimed the towers were in breach of rules banning commercial activity in the residential area.
The COAI will take the Uttar Pradesh government to the High Court in Allahabad, where it will argue that under the Indian Telegraph Act mobile tower licensing comes under national, not state government jurisdiction.
“The IT Act provides a complete code for establishment and regulation of ‘Telegraph’ (which includes establishment of towers) and the state or local authorities have no jurisdiction to make additional laws about it,” Shailesh Kapoor, a lawyer for the COAI, told Business Standard.
Reportedly, the legality over tower site placements is escalating across the country. A senior executive of tower firm GTL Infrastructure said the problem was “growing.” Whereas it was previously an issue in Maharashtra, it had spread to Noida and Delhi. “There is no common rule for the entire country,” he said.
To tackle that, regulator TRAI has embarked on a consultation, and promises to develop a national policy that will apply to mobile masts in cities with a population of more than 1 million.
The policy, to be set by June, will stipulate maximum radiation levels and minimum tower distances from schools and hospitals, Economic Times said.