India's telecom ministry is pressing ahead with efforts to make India roaming free – over the objections of operators – and plans to make it happen some time in 2013.
Telecom minister Kapil Sibal told the Economic Times that the government aims to abolish national long distance charges once unified telecom licenses are introduced by December.
But he said it is impossible to clarify the exact time-frame for the implementation of the one nation free roaming policy.
Indian parliament recently approved the New Telecom Policy, which includes abolishing local roaming charges as an objective.
Roaming charges currently account for around 10% of the mobile sector's revenues, and the likely shortfall will be coming at a time operators are having to pay millions of dollars for spectrum licenses and associated financing costs.
GSM lobby group COAI has warned that telcos are probably going to need to offset the losses by increasing call rates for consumers. This would jeopardize the government's goal with the policy of reducing telecom bills.