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Roaming charges to go, one-nation-one-number cleared: New Telecom Policy

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The Cabinet has approved the National Telecom Policy (NTP) 2012 that proposes to abolish roaming charges on mobile phones and allow users to retain the same number across the country. Under NTP 2012, it has been proposed to de-link spectrum from licences, reduce number of different licences, and give industry liberal mergers and acquisition norms.

The NTP 2012 aims to provide free roaming to telecom users and allow them to retain the mobile number even outside their circles without having to pay any extra charge. Presently the users have to pay extra when they receive or make a call in a circle outside their home network, called roaming charges. Also mobile number portability is not permitted outside circle.

The new policy aims to provide on demand broadband for all citizens and increase rural teledensity to 100 percent by 2020. The country overhauled its telecoms rules after the once-booming sector was hit by a massive scandal over telecoms licence grants in 2008, which a state auditor estimated to have cost New Delhi as much as $34 billion in lost revenue.

The new policy, which will separate licences and airwaves and will allow sharing of airwaves among carriers, also seeks to facilitate consolidation in the crowded market. Pricing of airwaves is, however, not part of the telecoms policy, and will be set through an open auction process.

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