FREQUENT TRAVELLERS within India who use mobile phones can rejoice. Roaming rentals have been done away with, SMSes can be received for free and the existing roaming rates have been cut by 22 to 56 per cent.
Telecom operators are, however, not happy and claim this will result in a loss of Rs 800-900 crore.
The new rates and changes will come into effect from February 15. Roaming means the ability of a cellular subscriber to automatically make and receive voice and data calls, and access other services while travelling outside the geographical coverage area of the home network, by using the visiting network.
On Wednesday, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) fixed a ceiling on roaming with the maximum permissible per-minute charges for roaming calls, irrespective of the terminating networks and the tariff calls.
Currently, operators levy a roaming charge varying from Rs 1.50 to Rs 3 per call for this service and charge a rental starting from a minimum of Rs 50 per month.
TRAI's order directs that mobile operators cannot charge any type of fixed or recurring charges for accessing roaming facility — for example, a monthly, weekly or daily rental.
Consumers stand to benefit from the TRAI tariff order —applicable for all mobile customers, prepaid and postpaid, and across all types of tariff plans offered by both GSM and CDMA networks. Communications Minister Dayanidhi Maran said, “The reduction in tariff began with ‘One India’ and continues.”