Free roaming, high broadband speeds in new telecom policy

The new telecom policy will bring cheer to consumers with the government Monday proposing to remove roaming charges for subscribers within the country, exponentially increasing broadband availability and speed and allowing for mobile numbers to be ported to any part of the country.

According to the draft of the New Telecom Policy unveiled by Communications Minister Kapil, roaming charges will be done away with and users will be allowed to port their mobile numbers, keeping the same number, even while switching service areas.

The new policy also proposed to accord the telecom industry the status of an infrastructure sector, which will help ease credit flow to companies for funding roll-out plans or expansion activities.

Mobile service providers would also benefit from the policy as it proposes to allow companies to pool, share and later trade spectrum — a scarce resource. The minister also said the government would look at bringing legislation for governance of spectrum.

“We believe it is imperative to move towards convergence of telecom, broadcast and IT services, networks, technologies and overcome all existing segregation of licensing, registration and regulatory mechanisms with the objective of enhancing access and reduce costs,” Sibal said while unveiling the draft of the new policy.

“Revenue generation will play a secondary role,” he added.

Sibal also said that his ministry was targeting increasing rural tele-density from the current 35 percent to 60 percent by 2017 and completely covering rural areas by 2020.

Broadband penetration is another key thrust area for the new policy. The minister said the government was targeting 175 million broadband users by 2017, and increasing this to 600 million by 2020.

The final telecom policy will be announced by December.