of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI)
proposed open house with consumers on bringing down
roaming charges, due on Tuesday, opposition to the
move is already building up from service providers
and their associations, Cellular Operators Association
of India (COAI) and Association of Unified Service
Providers of India (AUSPI).
is the facility that enables mobile users to make
and receive calls or send text SMS and access all
other services even when they carry their mobiles
outside the coverage area of their home network. As
the subscribers move out of this zone their calls
are automatically "handed over" to the network
in the new area.
different operators levy different roaming charges
within the country. These can vary from Rs1.50 to
Rs3 per call made or received depending
on the network. There are no ceilings on such roaming
view is that despite competition in voice telephony
segment of mobile services, the roaming services market
does not have significant competition and that there
are justifiable grounds for a review of the tariff
structure applicable for roaming services as determined
service providers contend that it is not TRAI but
market forces that should determine roaming tariffs.
The public sector BSNL has joined service providers
in demanding that they should be allowed to continue
to charge higher outgoing all and SMS rates while
Airtel has already communicated to TRAI that a ceiling
on national roaming charges would lead to an increase
in the overall tariffs. COAI contends that since the
overall tariff for mobile services in India is the
lowest since basic voice services are often provided
at below cost tariffs, revenues from VAS are an important
source of revenue compensation.
has justified the need to charge higher tariffs for
SMSs when the subscriber is on roaming on the ground
that SMS under roaming involves signalling network
and the expense on clearing house service.
national operators with networks all over the country
like BSNL, AirTel and Reliance too impose roaming
charges even though they do not need to transfer a
roaming subscriber to any other network. In most European
countries there are no roaming charges.
TRAI had introduced a consultation paper on roaming
last November. The key issue it addressed was whether,
in the case of a subscriber using the roaming facility,
the terminating network service provider should get
only the prescribed termination charges, or whether
there should be any revenue share between this
provider and the network to which the subscriber is
temporarily transferred. No final decision in the
matter has been reached.
contend that they should only be charged the cost
incurred by operators on providing roaming facilities.