Free India roaming could be reality by October 2013

Free India roaming could be reality by October 2013

Summary: Indian Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal has announced free roaming across the country will be in place before October, falling short of providing an exact date.


Free roaming across India could be in place by October 2013, after initial plans for a launch this month were postponed.

As quoted by The Times of India, Indian Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal announced the deadline but stopped short of providing an exact date. Telcos currently have to pay various fees like termination and interconnect charges to competing networks, which typically gets passed on to the consumer.

"TRAI has floated a consultation paper on [national free roaming]. So when Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI) recommendations come and after that, we will try to start free roaming before October," he said.

In December 2012, TRAI sent out a pre-consultation paper in order to seek input and response from stakeholders on the free India roaming services. 

Indian Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal (credit: Top News)

In May 2012, the government of India approved the New Telecom Policy (NTP) 2012, thus eliminating roaming charges and allowing users to retain the same number across the country. Cleared by the Indian Union Cabinet, the government of India plans to remove roaming fees while allowing users to retain their numbers even if they move from one circle or zone to another, while also introducing the one nation, one rate concept.

This will obviously benefit mobile users as incoming calls will be free and outgoing calls be charged at the local rate.

However, for telecom providers, this also means the end of subscriber trunk dialling (STD) rates across states and carriers. The difference between local and STD calls would no longer be in effect, appealing to consumers travelling across India.

According to experts, the NTP will result in a loss of US$400 million for telecom providers and an additional US$600 million in roaming charges. Roaming charges alone make up 10 percent of the revenues for telecom providers.

Potential tariff hikes

Hence, telecom providers have opposed this plan and scheme since the beginning, claiming it will cause an increase in operating costs and result in an increase in tariffs to the consumer. Telecom providers currently enjoy full liberty over fixing mobile tariffs, including roaming charges, without any regulatory intervention.

With the free roaming facility coming into effect by October 2013, it is most likely that telecom providers would increase the tariffs to compensate their roaming revenues.

In addition to the October 2013 announcement, Sibal also launched the National Internet Registry (NIR). The NIR coordinates the allocation and management of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses with other Internet resources at the national level across India.

The function of the NIR is to reduce the cost of processing IP addresses, in addition to facilitating faster information for cybercrime investigations

Topics: Telcos, Government Asia, Networking, India

Nitin Puri

About Nitin Puri

Originally from Canada, Nitin has been residing and working in India since 2009. He has worked in different ICT industries in countries such as India, Canada, and Tanzania. He is an avid follower and application developer within the growing mobile phone sector in India.

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  • Roaming Free India

    Sir ,
    I have one suggestion for telecommunication companies No need to Roaming free India but do one thing mobile number porting facility is working with different state like I have Gujrat No after some time my posting is in Karnataka then I don't want to change my no . like that...many people same problem ...I know company need profit ..and consumer need facility . I know in our country 20% people is poor why should they pay for roam free plan because if company use that roam free plan .then company should increase call rate. and 40% people stay in same place way should they pay. as per my knowledge now a day ever one have mobile , poor people also have .

    please use that idea "ALL INDIA HAPPY PLAN"
  • Roaming Free India

    Every month, I am wasting some money for roaming charges. Minister Kapil Sibal said Roaming is going to be cancelled from October 2013. Afterwards there is no words about this. Is it going to happen or not ?
  • Another alternatives

    Well there are several alternatives.. I would recommend few alternatives for making international calls to India. this website provides free international calls to india for 100 minutes... check it out..