The annoying 'roaming charges' levied by telecom companies on mobile users travelling outside their original circle will finally go from next year. Telecom minister Kapil Sibal said today that mobile phone subscribers will no longer have to pay these charges from next year. "Our secretary has told you that it will be free from next year," he said.
The minister was responding to a media query on the sidelines of the `India Internet Governance Conference' in New Delhi today.
The National Telephone Policy (NTP) 2012, approved in May, aims to abolish roaming charges and allow mobile phone subscribers to use same number across country without having to pay extra charges for services even when they are travelling outside their state or 'telecom circle'.
Telecom secretary R Chandrashekhar said the department of telecommunications (DoT) is working on a 'notice inviting applications' for spectrum auction, after which it will work on unified licence (UL) guidelines - also a part of the NTP 2012.
"We are first going to attend to all issues linked to auction. The moment NIA is issued this week, we will focus on UL. After full details of the UL are worked out, the modalities for free roaming will follow," Chandrashekhar said.
But there may not be all that much reason for mobile users on the move to rejoice, as analysts feel the abolition of roaming charges may lead to higher tariffs as operators get around 6-7 per cent of their revenues from such charges. The impact is likely to be more severe on telecom companies that operate in metro circles. The four metros and Bangalore and Hyderabad constitute over 50 per cent of roaming revenues.