Earlier yesterday, Kunal Prakash wrote about how the One Nation, One Sim policy could affect everyone. Let us get into the details of the policy and also the views of the COAI director on it.
The Indian cell phone users face many difficulties while travelling or moving across the country owing to the ludicrous roaming charges levied by the telecom companies. There is an insistent need for a policy that will relieve the customers from the burden of long cell phone bills while in any part of the country.
It seems India’s telecom minister Kapil Sibal acknowledges this need. He spoke about the concept of One Nation, Free Roaming that falls under a novel telecom policy. As per this policy, the mobile subscribers will be allowed to move freely across circles with no extra charges payable for incoming or outgoing calls even while on roaming.
PTI reported Minister Kapil Sibal stating earlier this week that mobile subscribers would not have to shell out roaming charges. The policy will be implemented across the country from the next year. This answer was given in response to a question regarding the timing of removal of the charges for national roaming as proposed by the National Telecom Policy in 2012. The query came up during the interaction between the minister and the media that took place on the sidelines of the inaugural event for the India Internet Governance Conference.
The National Telecom Policy or the NTP 2012 was approved in May. It aims at putting an end to roaming charges thus allowing mobile service users to use the same number anywhere in the country without paying additional charges for using services even when they go outside their circles.
In the meantime, R Chandrashekhar, Telecom Secretary, said that (DoT) the Department of Telecom is concentrating efforts on Notice Inviting Applications (NIA) for the spectrum auction. After the auction, it will function as per the (UL) unified license guidelines, which is also an element of the National Telecom Policy 2012.
He stated that the department is going to focus primarily on all matters pertaining to the auction. As soon as the Notice Inviting Applications (NIA) is issued, which will be sometime during the week, they will attend to the unified license issues. Once the details of the UL are fully worked out, their next concern will be modalities for free roaming.
As per the agenda, Notice Inviting Applications are going to be issued on September 28th.
General Rajan S. Mathews, Director of GSM industry body COAI, said that he appreciates the free roaming concept. However, that it has added implications on the telecom sector and the industry would have to discuss the details regarding the execution of ‘One Nation- Free Roaming’.
When questioned about the impact of the new policy on cell phone call rates, he said that matters pertaining to that will have to be worked out with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India also known as TRAI. TRAI is the ultimate authority in charge of deciding the call tariffs.
He also expressed his hope that the TRAI follows due procedure of the consultation paper. He said that the TRAI would produce a consultation paper, which will define the models being used for fixing the tariffs for free national roaming.