Cellular roaming charges reduced in India

Wednesday, 24 January 2007, 06:00 Hrs
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New Delhi: Mobile phone users across India will now enjoy cheaper roaming charges with tariff being slashed by up to 56 percent and rental for roaming being removed, according to telecom watchdog Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

Currently, a subscriber who travels outside the home network is charged a rental of 50 for national roaming services. For a GSM subscriber, an outgoing call could cost up to 3.99 per minute while a CDMA user is charged anywhere between Re.1 to 3.99 depending on the distance being traversed.

The new roaming charges, applicable to all prepaid and post-paid users of any service provider, will be 1.40 for local calls and 2.40 for STD calls and 1.75 for incoming calls, said a TRAI statement.

While incoming SMS would be free while roaming, charges for outgoing SMS' are under consideration, the statement added.

A surcharge of 15 percent on airtime while roaming and a separate PSTN (public switched telephone network) charge have also been done away with.

While Communications and IT Minister Dayanidhi Maran termed the move by TRAI as "essential", there have been some major voices of dissent among cellular operators.

"The adverse financial impact on the industry of the reduction in roaming tariffs notified by TRAI was expected to be to the tune of 8-9 billion," said T.V. Ramachandran, director general, Cellular Operator Association of India (COAI).

"The decline in roaming tariffs would most likely necessitate an increase in local call tariffs as roaming tariffs were hitherto being priced at a level which allowed the operators to offer the overall most economically affordable services to their consumers," Ramachandran added.

The COAI labelled the move as "unfair" as it would affect the telecom sector financially and restrict it in reaching out to rural masses.

The TRAI tariff order comes into effect Feb 15.
Source: IANS
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