Roaming charges may be dropped

Girja Shankar Kaura/TNS

New Delhi, October 7
The new Telecom Policy expected to be announced formally on Monday proposes to do away with roaming charges within the country, according to sources in the DoT. This would substantially reduce the bill of frequent travellers but dent the revenue of telecom companies.

Abolishing of roaming charges would be in line with international practices. The policy is also expected to suggest a time-frame for implementing this new rule.

The country is divided into 22 circles and consumers shell out a fee for using their phones when they move out of their base. The proposal to do away with roaming charges is likely to face stiff resistance from telecom companies since roaming charges are said to generate approximately 10% of their revenue.

The new policy also proposes to expand Mobile Number Portability and allow consumers to retain their numbers when they move to a new location in the country without having to pay roaming charges. MNP currently allows customers to retain their numbers while switching operators within the same circle.

The policy is also expected to suggest an exit policy for operators to enable them to surrender licences. In addition, it proposes to set up a Telecom Finance Corporation to facilitate investment in the sector. Telecom sector projects will be eligible for securing finance from agencies like the India Infrastructure Finance Corporation Limited. Taxes and levies affecting the sector will be rationalised to stimulate investment and make services more affordable.

The NTP 2011 also proposes to frame an appropriate exit policy, different from the surrender of licence, to permit easy exit and make mergers and acquisitions easier and increase the availability of spectrum.

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