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TRAI lowers roaming charges for calls, SMSes

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Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Monday has reduced ceilings for national roaming calls and SMS, which will be effective from July 1.

However, the telecom regulator said there will be no free national roaming as of now and not possible for at least next one year.

It has also mandated two types of free national roaming plans to be provided by all telecom service providers. Offers such as special tariff vouchers (STVs) and combo vouchers for both pre-paid and post-paid customers would be now available, and chose a plan as they want.

“Mandating a fully free roaming regime is simply not practical at this juncture. Compelling a transition to a fully free national roaming regime would result in telecom service providers not being able to recover their costs from roamers,” Rahul Khullar, Chairman, TRAI told reporters here.

He said this is a step towards making national roaming free since making zero cost is not possible at the moment.

The present exercise to review national roaming tariffs was initiated by the telecom regulator earlier this year in the context of decline in costs and the declared intent in the New Telecom Policy-2012 to move towards ‘One Nation-Free Roaming’ though out the country.

The authority said STVs and combo vouchers will give the service providers possible flexibility tariffs for each kind of customers.

The ceiling tariffs prescribed by TRAI in 2007 were Rs 1.40 per minute for outgoing local calls and Rs 2.40 per minute for outgoing STD calls while on national roaming. These ceilings have been reduced to Re 1 per minute and Re 1.50 per minute, respectively, it said.

Similarly, the ceiling tariffs for incoming calls while on national roaming have been reduced from Rs 1.75 per minute to 75 paise per minute.

Tariffs for outgoing SMS while on national roaming, which were earlier under forbearance, have now been capped. TRAI said outgoing SMS (local) will cost Rs 1 per SMS and outgoing SMS (for STD) will be charged Rs 1.50 per SMS. Incoming SMS will remain free of charge.

ronendrasingh.s@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on June 17, 2013)
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