Sector watchdog the Telecoms Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has lowered the price ceiling for national roaming voice and SMS services, to come into effect from 1 July 2013. Price ceilings for outgoing calls were reduced from INR1.4 (local) and INR2.4 (long distance) per minute to INR1 and INR1.5 respectively whilst maximum fees for incoming calls were lowered from INR1.75 to INR0.75 per minute. Charges for outgoing SMS, previously under forbearance, have now been capped at INR1.5 per message, and incoming SMS will be free.
In its press release, the TRAI explained its reasoning for not mandating free roaming immediately: ‘With increased subscribers and usage, the costs associated with national roaming have declined, but not vanished…Mandating a fully free roaming regime is simply not practicable at this juncture. Compelling a transition to a fully free national roaming would result in telecom service providers not being able to recover their costs from roamers. In turn, teleocm service providers would pass these costs on to all consumers (predominantly non-roamers) through higher tariffs.’ Instead of implementing free roaming, the TRAI has ruled that special tariff vouchers (STVs) and combo vouchers can be extended to roaming tariffs.