Telecom firms resist CDA policy; avoid towers sharing
(Flare (Pakistan) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) AHundreds of the telecom towers, dotting the skyline of Islamabad, pose serious threats to the lives and properties but the companies concerned are resisting Athe ACapital Development Authority formulating policy to streamline their operations.
Being the license issuing authority for installation of all Base Transceiver AStations (BTS) Towers in the city, the CDA has been striving to bind the companies share each other's towers so that their mushroom growth could be curtailed.
However, according to a senior CDA official, the telecom companies have been resisting the CDA's policy and seek no role of the CDA contending that any such law would be contrary to the government's policy of facilitating the telecom investors.
Currently there are around 458 BTS towers installed in Islamabad area falling under CDA premises and the number is on constant increase as telecom sector is yet getting boost.
He said the CDA had launched a citywide drive to check which of these towers were legally installed and whether all of them fulfill their safety measures, besides examining the sustainability of the buildings on top of which such towers are installed.
Under this drive, the CDA had also imposed fine worth Rs48 million on all telecom companies. However, a mobile phone company moved the court challenging the CDA's role to regulate functioning of telecom towers claiming that the city administration had nothing to do with their operations.
The CDA had imposed fine on the company for not getting 36 of its 102 towers in Islamabad. The firm also refused to share the tower with others or let others share theirs.
"If all companies share their towers, the number of installations would be reduced from existing 458 to 300," said the official.
Under tower-sharing policy, the CDA charges equal license fee from the recipient company, however as incentive, the civic body would give exemption of two-year license fee to the firm sharing equipment.
He said even Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has also been writing to the CDA stressing for formulation of friendly policies for telecom companies.
Though earlier, the then PTA chairman had endorsed the CDA's tower-sharing formula besides asking the companies to abide by it, later it claimed that civic authority's rules were not in consonance with government policy.
The PTA also asked the CDA to facilitate telecom investors asking the civic agency to reduce annual license fee from existing Rs 150,000 to one time charges of maximum Rs 30,000.
However, the CDA has refused any such favour as it would incur annual loss of Rs 45 million to cash-strapped civic body. "We had already reduced fee in 2005 from Rs 500,000 to 150,000, so they cannot decrease it further," said the official.
The upcoming BTS Towers Policy was meant to disallow BTS Towers at rooftops and remove them in case any suitable space is available there in the surrounding.
Earlier, in a report, the National Disaster Management Authority had also termed BTS towers at rooftop as hazardous recommending their removal, but the companies neither remove these nor submit building safety assessment certificate.
Besides vibration of generators troubling the residents, the weak structure of building, on top of which these towers are installed, also poses danger to lives and properties.
As another solution to diminish the risk for buildings it ugly look, the CDA has also encouraged the installation of camouflaged BTS tower so that the installations may not give ugly look.
"Such towers are camouflaged like slim tree or any other eye catching structure," the official maintained.
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