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After Airtel, Idea to remove national roaming charges for calls and SMS

Idea Cellular will remove all national roaming charges for incoming calls and SMSes starting from April 1, 2017. Both postpaid and prepaid users on Idea will not be charged a premium for calls or for mobile data while roaming outside their home network. Data pack benefits of the home circle will be available even while roaming outside the home circle.

Apart from this, Idea users travelling abroad can now recharge their connections with International roaming packs which offer bundled data, SMS, and free incoming calls in select countries. These packs are valid between 10 to 30 days and are available in countries across the Middle East, Europe and Asia, and North America. A list of the new packs here.

Note that Idea’s decision to remove roaming charges comes after Airtel’s announcement last month when it said that it too would do away with roaming charges starting from April. However, a bigger reason behind this is due to the launch of Reliance Jio which is currently providing free calls and data. Freebies in the marker have hurt rival telco’s revenues, with a significant amount of subscribers moving out to Jio or buying a second Jio SIM. The Mukesh-Ambani owned telco had also unveiled a new set of tariff packs last month and mentioned that roaming charges will not apply on its network for any user.

Government earlier looked into abolishing roaming charges

State-owned telco BSNL first abolished roaming on its network in June 2015. This was regarded as one of the first steps towards rolling out nationwide Mobile Number Portability (MNP). Prior to this, telecom regulator TRAI had instructed telcos to reduce ceiling tariffs for national roaming calls and SMSes and had also mandated telcos to offer a special roaming tariff plan to pre-paid and post-paid subscribers.

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Earlier, the Indian government had also planned to remove roaming charges in 2012 and the TRAI subsequently issued a consultation paper asking how to recover costs if incoming calls were made free on roaming. However, some telecom companies lobbied against this: COAI, a telecom lobby body consisting largely of India’s GSM operators submitted in a response (to TRAI’s consultation) that ‘any attempt to remove roaming charges would have serious cost implications’.

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