New telecom policy aims at doing away with roaming fees
Mobile telephone users may be able to make calls without paying roaming charges and change operator outside their circle while retaining the same number, if draft New Telecom Policy is implemented.
Declaring an agenda of 'One Nation-One Licence' across services, the NTP endeavors to create an investor-friendly environment by attracting additional investments in the sector, which has been marred by controversies relating to 2G scam in the recent past.
"Moving forward, we aim to create One Nation – One Licence across services and service areas. We aim to achieve One Nation - Full Mobile Number Portability and work towards One Nation - Free Roaming," Telecom Minister Kapil SIbal said while unveiling the draft New Telecom Policy 2011.
He, however, did not give any time line for implementing it and said this would be achieved as "we move forward."
"In achieving the goal of NTP-2011 revenue generation will play a secondary role," he said adding that the government would strive to bridge the digital divide between urban and rural India.
Highlighting the vision "Broadband on Demand", the NTP-2011 envisages leveraging telecom infrastructure to enable all citizens and businesses, both in rural and urban area to participate in the internet and web economy thereby ensuring equitable and inclusive development across the nation.
"We will seek TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) recommendations on new licences, migration to new licences and other policy recommendations," Sibal said adding that the government would frame an appropriate policy for players to exit from the sector.
In the wake of the 2G scam, the minister said spectrum allocation would be delinked from licences and radio waves would be made available at market-determined prices.
With regard to spectrum, Sibal said the government would provide a roadmap for additional spectrum availability every five years and also make its periodic audit mandatory to ensure that the scarce resource is used efficiently.
The draft NTP has also set an ambitious target of providing broadband services on demand by 2015 with a target of 600 million such high-speed Internet connections by 2020.
The draft NTP has went to the extent of likening the broadband connectivity to basic necessities like health and education and proposes to work towards a 'Right to Broadband' for every citizen.
The policy has also called for providing by the year 2015, the 'Broadband on Demand' services, which would enable affordable, across-the-country, round-the-clock and high-speed Internet connectivity to the users.
"The primary objective of National Telecom Policy (NTP)-2011 is maximising public good by making available affordable, reliable and secure telecommunication and broadband services across the entire country," Sibal said.
The draft NTP-2011 aims to achieve 175 million broadband connections by the year 2017 and 600 million by the year 2020.
It also aims to converge mobile telephony, multimedia and broadcast services, to offer superior experience to customers.
"We want to reposition the mobile phone from a mere communication device to an instrument of empowerment that combines communication, with proof of identity, fully secure financial and other transaction capabilities, multi-lingual services and a whole range of other capabilities that ride on them and transcend the literacy barrier," Sibal said.