India regulator to review mobile phone rates

Country's telecom regulator seeks feedback from operators in view of expected rise in mobile phone rates and data usage.

India's telecoms regulator will be reviewing the country's mobile phone rates and is seeking feedback from operators.

In press release (PDF) Monday, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said it issued a consultation paper titled, "Review of Policy of Forbearance in Telecom Tariffs", in view of rising mobile phone rates. Stakeholders should provide feedback to the regulator via its Web site by Feb. 24, it said.

According to TRAI , mobile tariffs have been on the decline for the last few years but recent trends in India and industry predictions are pointing to a reversal of the trend.

The review is also driven by the rise in data usage as the regulator is looking for a suitable tariff framework for data services.

The Times of India reported that this marked the first time "in nearly a decade" the regulator was stepping in to fix mobile call rates and telecom operators had expressed their unhappiness about it.

Rajan Mathews, director general of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) which represents GSM-based operators, told Times of India: "The industry is very upset. We are completely devastated by this sudden development. This comes at a time when the industry is reeling. We have the lowest and the most competitive tariffs in the world. Why change a policy that has served the industry so well?"

Last week, the Indian government cancelled 122 2G licenses issued since 2008 due to fraud during the allocation process. It also stopped telecos from partnering in 3G roaming pacts last year.

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