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Happy tidings for Indian cellphone users

No roaming charges while travelling within the country from next year, minister says

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    A girl using her mobile phone during the rain in Mumbai, India.Image Credit: AP
  • Day ni pictures
    A young man, surrounded by advertisements for Hutch, Airtel, Sony Ericsson, Samsung and Motorola, speaks on hiImage Credit: Bloomberg
Gulf News

New Delhi:Indian mobile subscribers will not have to pay roaming charges while travelling within the country from next year, Minister for Communications and Information Technology Kapil Sibal said yesterday.

“It [roaming] will be free from next year,” Sibal said on the implementation of free roaming proposed under the National Telecom Policy 2012 (NTP 2012) at a curtain-raiser event, India Internet Governance Conference, here.

Currently, a user pays an extra amount called roaming charge while making or receiving calls in a circle outside his home network.

The new policy, approved in May, paves the way for free roaming and nationwide mobile number portability.

The minister also said the new policy would replace the older regulation, which has been in effect for more than 12 years and provides a predictable and stable policy regime for a period of nearly 10 years.

The new policy will delink licences from the spectrum which have been bundled with them so far.

The NTP 2012 will also allow operators to provide services based on any technology by using airwaves and will not restrict them to using it for a particular service using any specific frequency band.

The government of India is against controlling or governing the internet but wants a consensus among stakeholders to deal with issues that may arise in future, Sibal said.

“There should be no formal government interference in the dissemination of information through a medium which is perhaps quintessentially representative of democracy. What we want is consensus and not a decision, consensus which will then be formalised through which we can deal in future,” Sibal said.

The minister said that some aspects of the internet are completely protected by freedom of speech but some aspects of it may not be protected by free speech.

Sibal also expressed reservations over the title of the event, India Internet Governance Conference, where he was speaking. “Quite frankly, I don’t like the word governance. I think we are starting on the wrong foot,” Sibal said.