The Indian government is looking to rollout nation-wide mobile number portability (MNP), a move that would allow subscribers to retain their existing cell phone numbers even if they shift from one service provider toanother, by October this year.
In December, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) - the telecom regulator - had floated a pre-consultation paper seeking inputs from stakeholders on tariff for national roaming services.
"TRAI has floated a consultation paper on national free roaming. So when the recommendations come and after that, we will try to start free roaming before October," Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said.
Under the 'National Telecom Policy 2012', the policies to govern the telecom industry, the government had envisaged implementing nation-wide MNP, or inter-circle MNP.
Implementation of MNP will provide wider choices to the subscribers, apart from bringing in a higher degree of competition in the industry as it would compel operators to provide affordable and competitive tariffs, NTP document said.
TRAI, in its pre-consultation paper, had sought inputs from stakeholders on tariff for national roaming services including cost components of call rates to be considered, the manner of cost recovery in case incoming calls are to be made free, the tariff for video calls and SMS while roaming, need for permitting special tariff vouchers for roaming customers.
At present, service providers pay various charges such as termination and interconnect charges for calls to other networks, which is finally billed to the customer.