The Governments' move to implement free roaming all over the country has left the Telecos with little option prompting a tariff hike. The Government and the Telecom Ministry are putting inconsiderable effort to remove roaming charges which is expected to come into effect earlier next year. The industry estimates however show there will be eight to ten per cent reduction in the revenue margins if free roaming materializes, although it impacts only five to eight percent of the subscribers.
The high spectrum charges losing out on customers will force the telecom companies to increase the tariffs by at least twenty-percent according to a news release by India Today. The current tariff hike is about twenty-five percent to the existing customers. The rise in tariffs will be implemented in stages. As a first step, the companies may withdraw special offers and promotional rates and subsequently increase the rates. The rates' increase may be in smaller margins till 2014.
Rajan. S. Mathews, the Director General of COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India) appreciated the move to realize roaming free services but expects the issues behind it to be resolved by the Government. The issues include traffic-routing, interconnection-centric issues, revised number plan, tariff rebalancing, licensing terms and conditions.
The decision of free roaming is expected to come into force by March-April, 2013. Both concerned departments of TRAI and DoT are discussing these serious issues with the Government and DoT has already set up a committee under a technical adviser and is expected to submit the report by February. Bharati Airtel, the top telecom company has also raised its concern over the idea of free roaming and its weightage which is to be enforced in a short span of time.