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TRAI Starts Pre-Consultation On National Roaming; Points Of Discussion


The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released a pre-consultation paper titled ‘Review of Tariff for National Roaming’, to undertake a review of the existing tariff framework for National Roaming Services.

Through this paper, the Authority has invited comments from stakeholders on the tariff framework for National Roaming services till January 17, 2013, so as to enable the authority to release a detailed consultation paper in the future.

TRAI stated that this paper seeks the stakeholder comments on various aspects of National roaming services like the cost components that have to be considered, recovery mechanism of these costs in case incoming calls are made free, tariffs for video calls and SMS while roaming and the need for allowing Special Tariff Vouchers for roaming subscribers among others.

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Some of the issues raised in the pre-consultation paper include:

- Whether the existing cost based approach for determining national roaming tariffs should continue. The cost components that should be included while formulating these charges. The other alternative methodologies which can be considered to determine the national roaming tariff.

- How to recover costs if incoming calls are made free on roaming and will the removal of incoming call charges increase the overall call traffic in the country - In the current scenario, the originating access provider i.e. the network from where the call originates, pays the terminating access provider a specific mobile termination charge for terminating the call on its network. The originating access provider later recovers this termination charge from its subscribers while keeping the incoming calls free of cost.

However, incoming calls while roaming are currently not free for subscribers as the roaming operators have to pay additional charges including carriage charges for carrying the call from home network to visited network and mobile termination charges. If these calls are made free, then the TRAI believes that these charges will remain unrecovered.

- How to formulate an arrangement in the existing licensing regime, if the difference between the home network tariff and roaming tariff has to be removed. What are the possible issues that might arise from this new arrangement - In the current scenario, licenses are provided separately for each service area and operators that charge a roaming tariff to subscribers outside their home service area. These operators then pay the visited network based on the roaming agreement between them. TRAI believes that it’s quite possible that a specific operator can demand a higher rate from other service providers to allow roaming facility since there are currently no terms and conditions in place for these kind of agreements.

- Whether operators can determine any specific tariff for video calls while roaming and the method which should be used to determine this tariff, since there is no specific tariff mentioned for video calls while roaming, in the 44th amendment (pdf) of Telecommunication Tariff Order which was released in January 2007.

- Also, whether operators should determine any specific tariff for SMS while roaming and the approach to be taken to determine this tariff, since the 44th amendment of Telecommunication Tariff Order doesn’t mention any specific limit for SMS while roaming, although it notes that the incoming SMS should be free.

- Whether operators be allowed to offer special tariff vouchers for roaming subscribers.

National Telecom Policy 2012: 

Mobile Roaming Charges To Be Abolished In 2013: Report
India’s New Telecom Policy 2012: What’s Changed? Additions & Omissions
India’s New National Telecom Policy Approved; Unified Service Licenses, Intra-Circle MNP, Spectrum Reforms

Our Take on the DoT Recommendations in the Draft National Telecom Policy 2011:

Draft New Telecom Policy 2011: Broadband Related Provisions & Issues Not Addressed
India’s Draft New Telecom Policy 2011: The Policy That Could Change India’s Digital Business Forever
India’s Draft National Telecom Policy 2011: What’s In It For Startups, Content & Service Providers
India’s Draft National Telecom Policy 2011: On Licensing, Regulation, Convergence, Spectrum And Manufacturing