At long last, the government has approved the right of way (RoW) policy for the telecom sector. The telecom industry needed this for a long time. The new blueprint will allow the telecom companies deeper penetration in the country. The policy will become a key enabler for expediting the deployment of underground (optical fibre) and overground (mobile towers) infrastructure in Pakistan. Because of the lack of an RoW policy, Pakistan is lagging behind all its neighbours. Only Afghanistan is below us in the telecom sector. Hopefully, the new policy will lessen the bureaucratic hurdles in the way of telecommunication companies.

The greatest beneficiaries of the RoW policy will be ordinary people. Mobile and Internet service providers often cite the lack of space for setting up the infrastructure necessary for addressing the poor-quality network. On the one hand, the new policy will simplify the process of site acquisition for installation of mobile towers and expedite the provision of mobile infrastructure. On the other hand, Internet service providers will also be facilitated since the new plan addresses the hurdles that Internet companies face in laying the fibre cable. Consequently, better connectivity, enhanced speed, more coverage and reduction in call drops for the users are the benefits associated with the new strategy.

Furthermore, the new regulations will attract more players to Pakistan’s telecommunications market for the policy provides legal cover to telecom and digital infrastructure. Similarly, the companies already in the market will find encouragement to spread out in areas beyond urban centres. The newly approved policy is undoubtedly a significant initiative by the government, as it can bring in so much to every stakeholder’s plate. However, the government needs to know that approving a policy is one thing; implementing it is another. And all the advantages of the RoW policy are contingent upon its successful implementation.