Tuesday, October 18, 2011

India may abolish roaming charges, plans nationwide MNP

The Indian government may abolish roaming charges and plans nationwide number portability, reports The Times of India, commenting on the draft National Telecom Policy 2011. It said broadband speeds will go up more than nine times in four years and consumers may get a say in the quality of services in case of disputes with operators. There is also a move to cut costs for value-added services, such as text messages, as the government and the regulator prepare an 'appropriate regulatory framework for delivery of VAS at affordable prices'.

Also, the mobile will become a device of empowerment and can double up as an identity proof, the draft says. The policy is moving from egovernance to m-governance as mobile telephony is now cheaper resulting in more people having access to phones.


Free domestic roaming - in other words, STD charges abolished Full number portability. Even if you move to another city, your number needn't change Broadband speed to go up significantly; broadband on demand by 2014 Rural consumers to get universal access by 2020 New technology to be available at lower costs Better consumer protection VOIP. While improving the overall quality of service is a key feature of the draft National Telecom Policy 2011, another focus is to shift towards convergence between telecommunications, IT, broadcast and electronics. The draft National Telecom Policy 2011 envisages that basic banking services could be accessed via the mobile phone. Mobile phones could also be used for services like school and college admissions and assignments, pension payments, utility bill payments, first level health services, cash withdrawals and deposits. A single number could be called for all government services, the draft paper said.

The idea is to treat IT and telecom as a basic necessity - just like health or education - and "work towards 'Right to Broadband'".

As part of the strategy, slow broadband connections with the policy aiming to double the download speed to 512 kilobytes per second (Kbps) and then boost it to 2 mega bps by 2015. But when it comes to other aspects, the draft reads like a statement of intent with timelines missing. For instance, it talks about a review of roaming charges "with the ultimate objective of removing the roaming charge across the nation".

Now, the plan is to identify performance standards and benchmark quality of service against the international standards. "To improve transparency, NTP -2011 recognises the need for formulating a separate Code of Practice for Sales and Marketing," the draft policy said.

The government also proposed to mandate provision for web-based full disclosure of area coverage by telecom service providers.