The Department of Telecom is considering merger of Mumbai and Kolkata circles with Maharashtra and West Bengal service areas– a step that will end roaming charges on subscribers travelling from these two cities to other parts in respective states and vice versa. Also Read - Vodafone CEO Nick Read to visit India this week; will seek bailout: Report
“It is at proposal stage to merge Kolkata with West Bengal and Mumbai with Maharashtra, like Chennai has been merged with Tamil Nadu circle. The DoT will take it up after getting TRAI’s recommendation on auction of 900 Mhz and 1,800 Mhz,” an official source told PTI. At present, DoT treats Kolkata and Mumbai as separate telecom circles. The discussion to merge certain circles was started in 2004 by then telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran. He had asked the DoT to merge Chennai service area with Tamil Nadu; Mumbai with Maharashtra and Kolkata with West Bengal so that customers are not required to pay roaming charges within a state. Also Read - BSNL agrees to lay off 54,000 employees, but waiting for elections to be over: Report
Later, plans for merger of Uttar Pradesh West and East were also taken up. In 2005, only Chennai was merged with Tamil Nadu. At present, roaming charges between metro and their respective states are either minimal or nil due to fierce competition in market. Merger of circles will formally lead to end of roaming provision with same state. Also Read - WhatsApp users can now file a complaint with DoT against offensive messages
“Consolidation of circles in India to a smaller number of Local Service Areas makes sense as it reduces administration as well as artificial differences in tariffs due to inter-circle roaming charges. In the longer term we should expect more of this,” PwC India Telecom leader Mohammad Chowdhury said. He said most countries do not have the concept of circles.