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Free incoming for global cellular cos

The country’s telecom industry is headed for a free market regime in which there’ll be no cap on the number of operators in each service area, report Arun Kumar and Gaurav Choudhury.

business Updated: Aug 30, 2007 02:30 IST

Your mobile phone is ringing, and there’s good news. The country’s telecom industry is headed for a free market regime in which there’ll be no cap on the number of operators in each service area. For the consumer, it means cheaper usage plans, more variety and global brands in phone services.

The fresh set of measures introduced by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Wednesday also laid down the criteria that would make existing players use scarce wireless spectrum more efficiently. This means the existing players will be forced to improve their services further. The open-door policy means that global giants such as AT&T, Deutsche Telekom and Japan’s NTT DOCOMO may enter India. For the mobile user it means an array of talk plans and handset options. The service providers will also think twice before raising phone rentals or SMS charges.

Industry executives are worried about Trai’s recommendation that wireless spectrum to be released for 3G (third generation) telephony be sold through auctions.

They say a scramble for airwaves to run 3G mobile services like video downloads and gaming or using the same spectrum for more voice calls could increase costs for operators and by extension, the consumers. Pricing of existing 2G spectrum, which existing operators got cheaply, will also go up under Trai’s new regime.