In 2012 the Department of Telecommunications of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology took steps for environmental protection by issuing guidelines on green technology standards. These guidelines were based on the recommendations entitled 'Approach Towards Green Telecommunications' made by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in April 2011.

These recommendations were finally accepted by the department and directions were issued accordingly to service providers through notifications issued to service providers in January 2012. The notifications are intended to:

"adopt measures to green the telecommunication sector setting broad directions and goals to achieve the desired reduction in carbon emission through the use of Renewable energy Technologies and energy efficient equipments."

Among other things, the guidelines impose obligations on service providers for the increased utilisation of renewable energy technologies and 'green passport'-certified equipment in the telecommunications network. The guidelines also set out the goals and benchmarks that service providers must achieve. Some of the notable directions on green technology standards are as follows:

  • At least 50% of all rural towers and 20% of urban towers must be powered by hybrid power (ie, renewable energy technologies and grid power) by 2015. Furthermore, 75% of rural towers and 33% of urban towers must be powered by hybrid power by 2020.
  • By 2015 all products, equipment and services in the telecommunications network should be energy and performance assessed and certified with a 'green passport', in line with the energy consumption rating initiative.
  • All service providers must declare the carbon footprint of their network operations to the TRAI twice a year.
  • Service providers should adopt a voluntary code of practice encompassing:
    • energy-efficient network planning;
    • infrastructure sharing;
    • deployment of energy-efficient technologies; and
    • adoption of renewable energy technology.
  • This voluntary code of practice should, among other things, cover a phased programme to achieve the eventual goal of powering around 50% of all towers in rural areas through hybrid renewable sources by 2015. It should also cover a 'carbon credit policy' in line with carbon credit norms, with the ultimate objective of achieving a reduction of up to 50% (in rural areas) and 66% (in urban areas) of the 2011 carbon footprint levels by 2020.
  • Service providers should aim at carbon emission reduction targets for the mobile network starting from 5% by 2012-2013 to 17% by 2018-2019.

Subsequently, the National Telecommunications Policy 2012 (issued in June 2012) has also stated that one of its objectives is to ensure "enhanced and continued adoption of green policy [in telecommunications] and incentivize use of renewable energy sources for sustainability".

For further information on this topic please contact Inder Mohan Singh, Kanchan Sinha or Arya Tripathy at Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff & Co by telephone (+91 11 4159 0700), fax (+91 11 2692 4900) or email (inder.mohan@amarchand.com, kanchan.sinha@amarchand.com or arya.tripathy@amarchand.com).

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