One of the highlights of the National Telecom Policy, 2012 had been the industry’s objective to abolish roaming charges. Last week though, TRAI quashed hopes of free roaming and instead said that starting July 1, 2013, subscribers will have to pay lesser for calls and SMS while on national roaming.
The Economic Times now reveals that the move has met with much criticism from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), which says the “one-nation, one-roaming” policy in the NTP 2012 is being followed only “in letter and not in spirit”.
Not free, but cheaper roaming from 1st July, 2013
Last week, TRAI, as part of its changed plans, announced that it has reduced the ceilings for calls and SMS on national roaming – Re 1 per minute for outgoing local calls and Rs 1.50 per minute for outgoing STD calls on national roaming, against the previous Rs 1.40 per minute and Rs 2.40 per minute, respectively.
In its detailed note announcing the new rates, TRAI Chairman Rahul Khullar noted that having fully-free roaming is "simply not practicable at this juncture". He explained that if the move is implemented now, telcos would be unable to recover their costs from those on national roaming and would pass these costs on to subscribers by way of higher tariffs. In working towards free roaming, TRAI has also borne in mind the need to keep costs to roamers at a minimum. With this in mind, TRAI also decided to allow roamers to avail benefits of Special Tariff Vouchers (STVs) and Combo Vouchers, which were thus far only available for home tariffs.