Telecom Lead India: Infrastructure status given to telecom tower sector is set to benefit companies like Viom Networks, Bharti Infratel, Indus Towers and Reliance Infratel.
The new status will enable tower providers to become eligible for viability gap funding. They will also benefit from higher limits on external commercial borrowing, lower import duties and exemptions on excise duty on telecom infrastructure equipment.
Tower providers will get softer lending rates at 3-4% on loan terms of 10-15 years compared to the market borrowing rates of 12-13% over 5-7 years. Companies will also be given a tax holiday under section 81 A.
The entire telecom sector will benefit as the status offers accelerated depreciation which will encourage more investments in the mobile industry, said telecom minister Kapil Sibal at a seminar on Industry-Government Dialogue for Harmonizing Efforts to Expand Telecom Infrastructure organized by the Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA).
The Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure has included telecom towers along with fixed line in the harmonized list of sub sectors and implementation committee consisting of representatives of various departments from RBI, Sebi, IRDA and the Planning Commission has been formed.
“The Harmonized Infrastructure Status offers new gateways of growth for the sector and provides a platform for Public Private Partnership (PPP) in the industry,” said Akhil Gupta, chairman, TAIPA and deputy group CEO & managing director of Bharti Enterprises.
The Government has allowed Renewable Energy Service Companies (RESCOs) to provide renewable energy based solutions to telecom towers. This model, which will involve the telecom tower industry serving as the anchor client for the RESCOs, will provide green energy to the towers and enable off-grid solution for power distribution to remote and underserved communities.
“Towers can facilitate green energy for rural India, financial & health inclusion, e-education and a host of e-governance services,” said Umang Das, director general, TAIPA and chief mentor, Viom Networks.