Indian Telecom Operator Roaming Tariff Packs – Self Induced Potential Showdown with Regulators


Indian Telecom Regulator( TRAI) last month came out with amendment to enforce roaming tariff ceiling for Incoming and Outgoing calls. Regulators also approved second mechanism of voucher offering by Mobile Operators to enable free roaming. Regulators agreed to Mobile Operators and its association strong view that scrapping of roaming charges is going to have negative impact on Mobile Operators financial health. On 1st July, two leading mobile operators came out with voucher offering to offer free roaming packs. It is interesting to observe that one of the leading operator reduced incoming call tariff while on roaming under voucher packs. It also enables subscribers to roam in its licensed geography and the tariffs are more or less same as if subscribers are making or receiving voice call to/from its home circle network. Aggressive tariff plan is nothing but another new tool for mobile operators to attract new subscribers from competitor network. Post TRAI directive, Reliance Communications showed their unhappiness regarding roaming regulation and within 24 Hours, Honourable Telecom Minister argued for frees roaming and promised to discuss potential second look regarding TRAI roaming directives. It would be extremely difficult for mobile operators to argue that they are going to lose billions of Dollars in case roaming is fully free. On one side, mobile operator’s initiates tariff war and then raise their concerns about loss and talks about raising tariff. Mobile operators recently only cut data tariff by 90% and it raises eyebrows; when they can make money by offering such a low tariff then why mobile operators kept on charging such a high tariff till now. It is going to be tough for mobile operators to raise tariff in coming years. I strongly feel that any upwards tariff move by mobile operator is going to face stiff regulatory resistance.

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