- Following initial rejection and backdoor diplomacy, the Public & Private Right of Way Policy Directive was finally approved in January 2021 for facilitating the installation and maintenance of telecom infrastructure throughout the country.
- The Prime Minister’s Task Force on IT & Telecom originally sought to devise specific rules for the Right of Way (RoW). However, given the absence of unanimity amongst the stakeholders, the task force presented a basic framework instead, in the form of a policy directive.
- RoW provides an authorisation enabling operators to set up telecom installations on roads, railways, electric transmission cables, et cetera following a payment.
- Key provisions of the policy include one-window operation, fee determination, dispute resolution, ensuring national security, guarding against health hazards, declaring telecom infrastructure as critical infrastructure, sharing of RoW, and establishing common service corridors.
- The implementation of the newly introduced policy directive is expected to reduce the administrative roadblocks for the telecom firms.
- RoW policy is deemed to be a baseline for Digital Pakistan by providing the framework for 5G readiness, ease of doing business, and improved connectivity of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
- Although the current policy does provide a sufficient framework towards digitalisation yet ensuring its implementation can prove to be an uphill task given its non-binding nature.
- The policy has not specified a target amount of monetary savings or an established period to acquire its goals. Consequently, there is no way to determine or gauge the extent of effectiveness of its different provisions.