After regulating domestic roaming rates, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has now set its sights on international roaming and is examining the exorbitant charges of mobile operators.
According to a Trai official, operators are charging exorbitant international roaming rates to some countries, leading to inflated bills when consumers travel abroad.
The authority is not likely to come out with a regulation soon but it will start debating the issue, so that customers are made aware.
"Our main objective is to protect the interest of consumers and avoid bill shocks while they travel abroad," a Trai official told Business Standard.
The regulator will also deliberate on the matter at the International Telecommunication Union. The official further said any kind of cooperation on international roaming can start with BRICS countries.
Trai will look at methods such as international, bilateral and regional treaties. The authority said it was the responsibility of an operator to educate customers. In case of bill shocks, Trai might also name and shame the telecom company concerned.
The regulator will soon start a debate on the issue of international roaming.
Telecom operators offer attractive international roaming rates for popular destinations such as the US, the UK, Singapore and the UAE, among others, with packs starting at Rs 499 a day to Rs 2,499 for 30 days. However, if one is travelling to a country like Estonia or Kenya, or any country in the African subcontinent, the rates rise substantially.
Vodafone is offering Rs 70 a min for incoming calls when one travels to Kenya and outgoing international calls are charged at Rs 165 a min. Mobile data rate stands at Rs 5.5 per 10KB.
Similarly, Idea Cellular's rates for Kenya stands at Rs 135 a min for calls to India, Rs 70 a min for incoming calls and data is charged at Rs 5 for 10 KB. However, Airtel is offering packs starting from Rs 999 for one day to Rs 6,999 for 30 days to Kenya.
The 30-day pack offers 5 GB of free data, 500 free call minutes to India and local, 100 free SMSs and 500 incoming calls. The international roaming rates for Reliance Jio are not listed on its website.
• Trai to look at methods such as international, bilateral and regional treaties
• Regulator says onus on operator to educate customers
• Trai likely to deliberate on the matter at the International Telecommunication Union
• Any cooperation on international roaming can start with BRICS countries