TRAI wants 35% cut in roaming rate, will telecoms listen?

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) today sought response from Indian telecom operators for its draft proposal to cut roaming call rates by 35 percent and SMS rates by 80 percent.

The telecom regulator will share its final recommendation after collecting comments from mobile operator stakeholders till March 13.

The last roaming rate review was in 2013.

It is expected that the new suggestion will not find positive response from several operator such as Vodafone India, Idea Cellular, Reliance Communications, Tata Docomo, Bharti Airtel, etc.

Recently, TRAI decided to implement national MNP (mobile number portability) from 3 May, 2015. Telecoms need to implement the full MNP in six months allowing mobile operators to change their wireless operators without changing their cell number.

The draft on reduction in roaming call rates is coming at a time when TRAI is facing criticism from select telecom operators for its decision to lower termination charges. Vodafone India has already challenged the TRAI decision in the Supreme Court. In fact, following the TRAI decision, several key telecom operators did not announce their plan to cut mobile call rates.

TRAI recommendation on roaming

TRAI says the average revenue realization per outgoing minute is Re 0.50 per minute, while average revenue realization per outgoing SMS is Re 0.16 per SMS. TRAI noted that the average tariff levels for national roaming services are much higher than the average revenue realizations.

TRAI today released a draft amendment to the Telecommunication Tariff Order, 1999 for comments of the stakeholders. Through the amendment order, the TRAI aims to reduce the ceiling tariffs for national roaming services.

The TRAI draft document said the Indian telecom regulator proposed to reduce maximum charges that can be imposed on outgoing local calls during roaming to 65 paisa per minute from ceiling rate of Re 1 per minute.

It has also proposed to slash long distance or STD call rates during roaming to Re 1 per minute from maximum charge of Rs 1.5 per minute. TRAI wants telecom companies to charge a maximum of 45 paisa per minute, instead of 75 paisa permitted at present for incoming calls.

It said local SMS should be charged 20 paisa maximum compared Re 1 that can be charged at present while roaming. TRAI has proposed 25 paisa per STD SMS sent by customers when they are roaming, compared to the ceiling tariff of Rs 1.5 per SMS now.

In 2013, TRAI had reviewed the tariffs for national roaming services in view of the decline in per unit incremental cost for national roaming and the objective of NTP 2012 to work towards One Nation – Free Roaming. One Nation – Free Roaming did not take off because there were no takers for slashing roaming rates.

Baburajan K
[email protected]