The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Monday announced two types of conditional free national roaming proposals which would be implemented from July and could significantly reduce roaming charges. “TRAI has mandated the service providers to offer special plans for roaming subscribers in which they can avail of partially free roaming or fully free roaming in lieu of payment of fixed charges,” the TRAI said.
The regulator added that currently a completely free national roaming regime wasn’t “practicable”. “With increased subscribers and usage, the costs associated with national roaming have declined, but not vanished. There are still real costs incurred in providing the national roaming facility. Mandating a fully free roaming regime is simply not practicable 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... In turn, telecom service providers would pass these costs on to all consumers, predominantly non-roamers through higher tariff,” the TRAI said. Earlier this year, in keeping with the new National Telecom Policy 2012, the TRAI had decided to review roaming rates and bring in one nation-free roaming across India.
The telecom regulator stated that the ideal way ahead would be to set up a tariff system where the roamers could self-select themselves and minimise the effect on other subscribers. The regulator has also allowed STVs (Special Tariff Vouchers) and combo vouchers for roaming tariff which were so far only for home tariffs.
“The new regime provides reduced ceilings and free roaming facilities for roamers without impacting customers who do not use the roaming facility,” the TRAI said in a statement.