TRAI reduces roaming charges for calls and SMSs

MUMBAI: Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Monday announced reducing the national mobile phone roaming charges. The regulator said there would be no free national roaming as of now, but it had come out with conditional free national roaming plans to bring down cellphone roaming charges, reports said.

"TRAI has reduced ceilings for national roaming calls and SMS and instituted a new regime for providing flexibility to telecom service providers to customise tariffs for national roamers through STVs (Special Tariff Vouchers) and Combo Vouchers," the regulator said.

It has also mandated two types of free national roaming plans to be provided by all telecom service providers. These changes will come into effect from 1 July 2013, it said.

"Mandating a fully free roaming regime is simply not practicable at this juncture. Compelling a transition to a fully free national roaming regime would result in telecom service providers not being able to recover their costs from roamers," the regulator said.

In turn, telecom service providers would pass these costs on to all consumers (predominantly non-roamers) through higher tariffs, it added.

In 2007, TRAI had prescribed the ceiling tariffs of Rs 1.40 per minute for outgoing local calls and Rs 2.40 per minute for outgoing STD calls while on national roaming. These ceilings were reduced to Rs 1 per minute and Rs 1.50 per minute respectively, it said.

Similarly, the ceiling tariffs for incoming calls while on national roaming have been reduced from Rs 1.75 per minute to Rs 0.75 per minute, it said.

Tariffs for outgoing SMS while on national roaming, which were earlier under moderation, have now been capped outgoing SMS (local) at Rs 1 per SMS and outgoing SMS (STD) at Rs 1.50 per SMS. Incoming SMS will remain free of charge, TRAI said.

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