|Internet service providers worried about their livelihood|
GUWAHATI, Oct 17 - At a time when the Internet has become an intrinsic part of people’s daily life, a section of Internet Service Providers (ISP) here have expressed concern over the threat to their livelihood due to the enhanced charges levied by APDCL for using its poles for laying overhead optic fibre cables.
Fearing a shutdown of their business due to the ‘400 per cent hike’ in the per poll charges from August 2020 by APDCL, several Internet service providers in the city have urged the authorities concerned to review and revoke the decision.
The ISP members have decided to convene a general meeting of all the service providers on October 22 to discuss their plan of action.
“As per an agreement in 2015, the per pole charges for ISPs was Rs 20 per month. However, as per the letter from the CGM, Lower Assam Division of APDCL, the contract of such ISPs would be renewed this year with enhanced charges of Rs 1,000 per year for each pole. It would impose a significant burden on an average ISP which uses at least 100 or more poles for its optic fibre network,” owner of an ISP firm told The Assam Tribune.
Moreover, a registration fee of Rs 1 lakh has also been levied on the operators. Further, instead of per month pole rentals, the ISPs will have to deposit a year’s rental in advance.
An ad hoc committee with Ashok Sarkar as convener has been formed for the general meeting of all the operators of Internet service providing firms.
The small scale ISP business, which is mainly run by educated unemployed local youth, is a source of income for more than 1,000 families in Guwahati.
Unlike the big telecom companies, which have their huge infrastructure for providing Internet service to the consumers, these ISPs are entirely dependent on the APDCL poles for their business.
“Many of the cable TV operators are also associated with the ISP business and are apprehensive about their future. Especially, the advanced deposit and additional GST on such charges would compel many to come out of this business due to financial constraint,” Iquebal Ahmed, general secretary of the Cable TV Operators Forum of Assam, stated.