After announcing plans to abolish roaming charges for mobile users when traveling within India from next year, the telecom department is likely to ask operators to implement this consumer-friendly move from March.
Mobile phone companies have opposed the government's plans to do away with roaming charges, which accounts for about 10% of their revenues, and have warned they would be forced to increase tariffs to offset this loss.
According to an internal DoT note (dated November 23) reviewed by ET, the department has listed this consumer-friendly move amongst 'key initiatives to be completed within the next three months'.
By March, the department also wants to expand the mobile number portability (MNP) provision and allow consumers to retain their numbers when they move to a new city or any location in the country without having to pay roaming charges. At present, MNP, the facility that allows customers to retain their number while switching operators, is restricted to a circle. For instance, a Delhi customer can switch to any operator within the metro, as this is considered to be the 'base circle' for that number.
The Cellular Operators Association of India, the body representing mobile phone companies on the GSM platform such as Vodafone and Bharti Airtel, has criticised the government's plans to abolish roaming charges, and has maintained that the DoT must first sort out a slew of policy-related issues, including migration to the unified licence, before asking telcos to do away with this charge.
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