The Cabinet on Thursday cleared the National Telecom Policy 2012 which envisages a slew of initiatives, including free roaming, unrestricted Net telephony and a new unified licensing regime for operators.

The policy gives specific emphasis to push broadband uptake and increase local manufacturing of telecom equipment. The policy document is, however, silent about when and how the proposals will be implemented.

The biggest gain would be for those who travel a lot, as roaming charges are set to be abolished. This means that subscriber will get free incoming calls and outgoing calls at local tariffs anywhere in the country.

Introduction of inter-circle Mobile Number Portability will enable users carry their phone number from one State to another. For example, an Airtel user in Delhi can shift to Vodafone's network in Chennai and retain the phone number. Currently, MNP is allowed only if the user wants to change operator in the same circle.

unrestricted Net telephony

The other major gain for consumers will be on the proposal to allow unrestricted Internet telephony. This will allow subscribers to use the Internet to make local and STD calls to a fixed or mobile user. This is also good for Internet Service Providers such as Reliance Industries promoted Reliance Infotel, as unrestricted Net telephony will allow them to offer voice services on top of data.

The new policy comes at a time when the telecom sector is reeling under the multiple impact of the 2G spectrum scam, falling revenues for operators and the resultant tariff hikes.

(This article was published on May 31, 2012)
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