New telecom policy aims at doing away with roaming fees

New telecom policy aims at doing away with roaming fees

New telecom policy aims at doing away with roaming fees

According to the draft New Telecom Policy-2011, released by Union Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal, mobile users will be allowed to retain their number despite changing their service provider anywhere in the country.

Currently, mobile users, leaving their telecom circle and moving to other states, are charged Re 1 per minute on each incoming and outgoing local calls in the circle they are travelling. While the customers are charged Rs 1.50 for outgoing STD calls.
The government also wants to increase broadband penetration by targeting 175 million users by 2017 and increasing this to 600 million by 2020. The policy also proposed to revise the existing broadband download speed of 256 kbps to 512 kbps and subsequently to 2 Mbps by 2015 and higher speeds of at least 100 Mbps there after.

The suggestion to accord telecom industry the status of an infrastructure sector will help ease credit flow to companies for funding roll-out plans or expansion activities.
Highlighting the vision “Broadband on Demand,” the NTP -2011 envisages leveraging telecom infrastructure to enable citizens in rural and urban areas to participate in the internet and web economy to ensure equitable and inclusive development across the country.

The policy proposes to establish appropriate institutional framework to co-ordinate with different government departments for laying  optical fibre cable networks for rapid expansion of broadband in the country.

Ensuring availability of sufficient microwave spectrum to meet current and future demand for wireless back haul, especially in prime brands below 12 GHz in additional to higher spectrum bands, also tops the agenda. Unlicensed spectrum will be made available for proliferation of wireless broadband services.

As per the new policy, domestic telecom manufacturers are set to get incentives as the government has set a  target of meeting 80 per cent of local requirement by 2020 by promoting domestic production.

The domestic demand is estimated at Rs 2,50,000 crore by the end of the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-2017).

The draft suggests setting up a corpus to promote indigenous research and development, creation of intellectual property right, entrepreneurship, manufacturing, commercialisation and deployment of state-of-the-art telecom products and services.

To address the strategic and security concerns, Sibal said the government will provide preferential market access for domestically produced telecommunication products, including mobile devices, and SIM cards.

Under the policy, the government will promote setting up an telecommunications standard development organisation as an autonomous body with strong participation of the industry, R&D centres, service providers and academia.

Support to Trai
The new policy will also ensure support to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to enhance consumer awareness about services and tariffs. To improve  transparency in tariffs and other services, the policy suggests formulating a separate code of practices for sales marketing.

The draft has been put on the Department of Telecom website, inviting suggestions and objections from various stake holders.

The ministry will announce a final policy in December this year. Sibal said all proposals will be implemented stage by stage. However, the ministry has not set any deadline for implementing the proposals.

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