Mobile roaming charges to go

Mobile roaming charges to go

New Telecom policy for sharing of airwaves among carriers

The government on Thursday approved the National Telecom Policy-2012, which seeks to abolish roaming charges for mobile users across the country.

The policy, which will replace the decade-old norms now in place, also aims at simplifying the licencing policy and delink licences from airwaves.
Speaking on the Cabinet decision, Telecom minister Kapil Sibal told media persons: “Affordability of the consumers is the core of our policy. Target is one nation-full mobile number portability and work towards one-nation free roaming.”

The new policy will allow sharing of airwaves among the carriers and facilitate consolidation in the crowded market. Pricing of airwaves is not a part of the policy, and the spectrum will be sold through an open auction process.

However, introduction of the policy will take some time, as the Telecom department needs to work out modalities to implement it.

As for service providers, the Cabinet approved introduction of the unified licence and authorised the DoT to finalise the new unified licensing regime. The NTP-2012 also seeks to increase broadband speed to a minimum of two megabit per second (mbps) with immediate effect.

With the new policy getting approved, telecom licences have been delinked from spectrum. The NTP-2012 will allow operators to provide services based on any technology by using airwaves and will not restrict them to use it for particular service under any specific frequency band. At present, there are frequencies which are specifically used for providing GSM or CDMA services, according to the permit given to the companies.

An official statement issued at the end of the Cabinet meeting said: “The policy envisions providing secure, reliable, affordable and high quality converged telecommunication services anytime, anywhere for an accelerated inclusive socio-economic development.”

“The policy will be operationalised by bringing out detailed guidelines, as may be considered appropriate, from time to time. It will enable smooth implementation of the policies for providing an efficient telecommunication infrastructure taking into account the primary objective of maximising public good by empowering the people of India,” the statement said, adding that the policy will further enable taking suitable facilitatory measures to encourage existing service providers to rapidly migrate to the new regime in a uniformly liberalised environment with a level playing field.

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