Say bye to roaming charges in India

CIOL Bureau
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NEW DELHI, INDIA: India's new telecom policy will bring cheer to consumers with the government Monday proposing to remove roaming charges for subscribers within the country, exponentially increasing broadband availability and speed and allowing for mobile numbers to be ported to any part of the country.

According to the draft of the New Telecom Policy unveiled by Communications Minister Kapil Sibal, roaming charges will be done away with and users will be allowed to port their mobile numbers, keeping the same number, even while switching service areas.


The draft on new telecom policy is all set to facilitate 100 per cent mobile penetration by 2020 while it projects 60 per cent tele-density by 2017 in rural regions.

Broadband penetration is another key thrust area for the new policy. The minister said the government was targeting 175 million broadband users by 2017, and increasing this to 600 million by 2020.

With a focus on remote and rural areas, it aims to increase tele-density that could reach 100 per cent by 2020. The government also advocates content in vernacular languages and regulatory framework for VAS providers. Sibal said that 300 MHz of spectrum will be provided for IMT services by 2017. He also said that the broadband speed will also be revised from 256 kbps to 512 kbps.


Spectrum allocation

Reeling under the brunt of 2G spectrum allocation scam, the government promised transparency in spectrum pricing.

Sibal said that policy framework is needed to get more spectrum available in the country. “Going forward, spectrum will be allocated as per market pricing,” he said. The geographical requisites for spectrum licensing will also be reviewed.


Mobile service providers would also benefit from the policy as it proposes to allow companies to pool, share and later trade spectrum - a scarce resource. The minister also said the government would look at bringing legislation for governance of spectrum.

Sibal also said that government wants to transform mobile device to an instrument for empowerment. The government also plans to provide 500 MHz spectrum by 2020 and encourage digitalization of local cable networks.

The government is also mooting one-nation, one-license system. “Network service operators will be licenced to set up converged networks. We’ll enable service operators to deliver various services, including VAS and IPTV,” Sibal said.


The new policy also proposed to accord the telecom industry the status of an infrastructure sector, which will help ease credit flow to companies for funding roll-out plans or expansion activities.

"We believe it is imperative to move towards convergence of telecom, broadcast and IT services, networks, technologies and overcome all existing segregation of licensing, registration and regulatory mechanisms with the objective of enhancing access and reduce costs," Sibal said while unveiling the draft of the new policy.

"Revenue generation will play a secondary role," he added.


Sibal also said that his ministry was targeting increasing rural tele-density from the current 35 per cent to 60 per cent by 2017 and completely covering rural areas by 2020.

The final telecom policy will be announced by December.

(With inputs from IANS)