Trai lowers roaming charges for calls, SMSes

Trai lowers roaming charges for calls, SMSes

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Monday allowed free mobile roaming on payment of a fixed fee from July 1 and reduced national roaming charges for others by up to 57 per cent.

The regulator, however, rejected the suggestion of completely scrapping roaming charges saying it was not practical as of now. “The authority has decided to reduce the ceiling (upper price for roaming calls and SMS rates) across board, permitting telecom providers to issue special tariff vouchers and mandating that a roaming plan will be offered (for post paid customers),” Trai Chairman Rahul Khullar said.

The ceiling tariffs on national roaming prescribed by Trai in 2007 were Rs 1.40 per minute for outgoing local calls and Rs 2.40 per minute for outgoing STD calls. These ceilings have been reduced to Re 1 per minute and Rs 1.50 per minute respectively, Trai said in a statement. Similarly, the ceiling tariffs for incoming calls while on roaming have been reduced from Rs 1.75 per minute to 75 paise per minute, it added.

Tariffs for outgoing SMSes while on roaming, which were earlier under forbearance, have now been capped: Outgoing local SMSes at Re 1 per SMS and outgoing STD SMSes at Rs 1.50 per SMS. Incoming SMSes will remain free. The regulator said operators have been mandated to provide two types of roaming plans for customers–Special Tariff Vouchers (STVs) and Combo Vouchers (CVs).

“Trai has reduced ceilings for national roaming calls and SMSes and instituted a new regime for providing flexibility to telecom service providers to customise tariffs for national roamers through STVs and CVs,” the regulator said.

While rejecting the suggestion of complete removal of roaming charges, the Trai said that free roaming regime is simply not practicable at this juncture. All subscribers will benefit from the reduced ceilings, and competitive pricing below the new ceiling levels is expected. The provision for STVs and CVs as well as special tariff plans for roaming will allow service providers to cater to specific roaming needs of different customer segments, it added.

The regulator had initiated review of national roaming tariffs after the government announced to make one national free roaming throughout the country in the New Telecom Policy (NTP), 2012.

Asked about the implementation of mobile number portability at the national level, Khullar said work is going on in the matter but it is not likely this year.

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