Government mulls Telecom infrastructure mandatory for future Real Estate ventures


KOLKATA/NEW DELHI: The government plans to make creation of telecom infrastructure mandatory for future real estate ventures, including high rises, according to an internal note of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) reviewed by ET.
It is likely to shortly specify real estate project categories where it may purely be the property developer's responsibility to arrange the basic telecom infrastructure, including broadband connectivity.

DoT will unveil an enabling policy to create "common infrastructure that will include a mandatory provision of telecom infrastructure for all new real estate developments and in buildings," says the note. Such property ventures are likely to include both commercial and residential ventures.

India's top property developers, however, await greater policy clarity and want the government to ensure mandatory telecom infrastructure costs in real estate ventures are shared by builders and telcos. "There is no resistance to providing a (telecom) backbone connecting all apartments in a project.

But if there are new guidelines in the offing, they should have a provision of telecom service providers sharing costs with builders," said Lalit Kumar Jain, chairman, Confederation of Real Estate Developers' Associations of India, the industry lobby representing India's leading property developers.

According to him, many builders already provide telecom backbones in the form of optic fibre networks linking multiple apartments. In such a situation, multiple telecom service providers pay the builder a charge to use it.

The government's call for mandatory telecom infrastructure provisioning in new property ventures is partly aimed at complementing its ambitions to develop 100 smart cities across India.

While presenting the Budget for 2014-15 last week, Finance MinisterArun Jaitley earmarked Rs 7,060 crore for creating 100 satellite towns of larger cities, especially to grapple with the challenge of mass people migration from rural to urban zones.

The DoT's upcoming guidelines will also mandate creation of common telecom infrastructure such as ducts along national and state highways and in municipal areas. The telecom department also plans to streamline 'right of way' (RoW) rules in consultation with all state governments to hasten high-speed broadband rollouts in both urban and semi-urban areas.

The decision to tweak RoW rules, it is learnt, was induced by deterrents in current norms, involving multiple state agencies, which tend to delay clearances and hold up broadband rollouts.

The DoT, in fact, concedes that "delay in getting RoW permission from states" had upset rollout schedules of the Rs 21,000-crore national optic fibre network project that aims to take high-speed internet broadband connectivity across India's hinterlands.