From 2013, the mobile phone subscribers can use their number seamlessly across the country without having to pay roaming charges. Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal today said that roaming would be free for subscribers from next year.
The “all India free roaming” was one of the proposals in the National Telecom Policy 2012, which was approved by the Cabinet in May, this year. It aims to abolish roaming charges and allow mobile phone subscribers to use same number across country without having to pay extra charges for services once they are outside their telecom circle.
At present, telecom operators charges "roaming fees" when a subscriber moves outside his or her telecom circle. According to analysts, the abolition of roaming charges may lead to higher tariffs as many operators get around 6-7 per cent revenues from roaming services. The impact is likely be more severe on telcos that operate in metro circles. The four metros and Bangalore and Hyderabad constitute over 50 per cent of roaming revenues.
GSM industry body COAI Director General Rajan S Mathews said he appreciated the concept of free roaming, but added that industry will have to work on details of implementation of 'One Nation - Free Roaming'.
When asked about the impact on mobile phone call rates, Mathews said, "That is matter which we will have to work with Trai (telecom regulator). Trai is ultimately responsible for setting the tariffs...We hope that Trai will follow due process of consultation paper."
However, earlier, Mathew had said that “Roaming revenues help many operators cross-subsidise voice calls. Once this cushion is not available, we might see tariffs of voice calls go up.”
According to sectoral regulator Trai, there are 944.81 million mobile phone user in the country as on July 2012.