You may soon be able to talk on your mobile phone wherever you are in the country without worrying about roaming bills. The draft National Telecom Policy 2011 (NTP 2011) – likely to be announced next week – is going to propose this.
Currently, roaming on incoming calls – otherwise free -- costs about R1 per minute and R1.50 for outgoing calls. The draft NTP 2011 proposes to do away with these charges.
However, experts worry that the government will make roaming at par with the local calls. “By removing roaming charges, the government is basically removing any payment for the airways that are used by a guest customer. But there is nothing which prevents the companies from charging STD rates. They can also increase these rates,” said BK Syngal, former CMD of Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (now Tata Communications).
The draft NTP 2011 will also include sharing of spectrum by the operators exit policy for operators to surrender licence and setting up of Telecom Finance Corporation (TFC) to facilitate investment in the sector. Many telecom service providers are facing problems in getting finances.