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TRAI keeps its word, slashes national roaming charges ceiling

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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has reduced the ceiling tariffs for national roaming calls and SMSes and has mandated telcos to offer a special roaming tariff plan to pre-paid and post-paid subscribers. In this special roaming tariff plan, incoming voice calls will be free after and if there is a payment of fixed charge. Changes will come into effect from 1 May 2015.

New tariffs

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According to the new ceiling tariffs, while on national roaming, outgoing local calls will cost 80 paise/minute as opposed to the Re 1 previously, outgoing inter-circle voice calls will cost Rs 1.15/minute against the previous Rs 1.50, incoming voice calls will cost 45 paise against 75 paise previously, outgoing SMS will cost 25 paise/message as opposed to Re 1 previously and outgoing inter-circle SMS will cost 38 paise as opposed to the previous Rs 1.50.

Earlier in March, the TRAI had proposed to slash roaming call and message charges for telcos by 30% and 80% respectively on maximum rates charged for the above in the Draft Telecommunication Tariff (Sixtieth Amendment) Order, 2015.

The previous proposition was:

Outgoing call charges while on roaming have to come down to 65 paise per minute from the previous 1 rupee while STD calling during roaming has to be reduced from Rs 1.50 to Re 1 per minute. Incoming calls on roaming will be restricted to 45 paise per minute as compared to 75 paise currently, and SMSing will get cheaper from Rs 1.50 rupees to 25 paise per SMS on roaming.

Review after a year

India has been divided into 22 licensed service areas for telecom access services and any subscriber who uses a mobile network outside his/her home network falls under a national roaming service. The TRAI issues separate licenses for each licensed service area. TRAI mentioned that tariffs for national roaming services were last revised in June 2013 via the Telecommunications Tariff Order (55th Amendment), 2013 and while formulating the revised tariffs, said that the tariffs were be subject to review after a year.

Previous TRAI measures

– TRAI is looking to allow Mobile Mobile Number Portability across India by 3rd May 2015, a draft consultation paper (pdf) with an amendment to its current MNP regulations appears to suggest. However, COAI director general Rajan S Mathews said that telecom operators are likely to miss the pan-India Mobile Number Portability (MNP) deadline of 3 May 2015. Note that the TRAI had previously recommended pan-India inter circle mobile number portability (MNP) within six months in September 2013, which did not happen. Similarly in December 2012, telecom minister Kapil Sibal had announced that nationwide mobile number portability will be implemented in the country by February 2013, which also did not happen.

– In February, TRAI issued an update to The Telecommunication Interconnection Usage Charges (Twelfth Amendment) Regulations, 2015 which slashed the domestic carriage charge by 50% from 65 paise per minute to 35 paise per minute. This regulation would be effective from 1 March 2015.

Image Credit: Flickr user Meena Kadri and TRAI

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