Indian Government is all set to abolish roaming charges by 2013. Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal reiterated today that roaming would be free for mobile subscribers from next year.
That’s just a few days away and with telco’s expressing reservations to implement free roaming, the target seems a bit unrealistic unless the telecom regulator puts it foot down and insists on implementing free national roaming.
The move will benefit millions of mobile phone user in the country, however will have serious implication on telcos. The decision to waive off roaming charges will hit the telcos operating in metro circle hard.
Currently, telecom operators charges roaming fees from mobile users when they travel outside of their respective telecom circle. Metros including Bangalore and Hyderabad constitute over 50 % of roaming revenues.
The all India free roaming initiative was proposed under National Telecom Policy 2012 and approved by cabinet in May this year. The telecom department is likely to ask operators to implement all India free roaming from March.
Telecom companies have opposed the government’s plans to abolish roaming charges and have warned they would be forced to increase tariffs to offset this loss.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the body representing telecom companies on the GSM platform such as Airtel and Idea, has criticised the government’s plans to abolish roaming charges.
COAI asked that the DoT must first sort out policy-related issues, including migration to the unified licence, before asking telcos to abolish roaming charges.
TRAI to deactivate the inactive mobile connections
According to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India ( TRAI), around 20% of country’s total 900 million mobile connections are inactive. To disconnect the inactive connections, the regulator has decided to frame guidelines, so that telcos can reissue the inactive numbers. [Source]
At present some telcos de-activate the mobile connection if the number is inactive for 30 days, others have a 90-day deadline. To ensure the uniformity for disconnections TRAI is also mulling over transparent parameters.
The telecom regulator also mulling over guidelines which will define usage for active connection.