India has announced that it has drafted a telecoms policy, imposing different regulations on how mobile licences are sold and boosting consumer rights. This is the first such policy move since a scandal hit the telecoms sector.
The policy pushes to allow mobile providers to share air waves, making mergers and acquisitions easier.
It also proposes the removal of roaming charges on mobile phones and provide broadband on demand.
The telecoms policy introduction comes after a multi-billion dollar scandal took place over the sale of 2G licenses.
The state auditor has said that mobile phone frequency licences were being sold for a fraction of their value. The scandal may have cost India as much as $39 billion in income, equal to their annual defence budget.
Top executives and even ministers have been taken into custody in connection with the 2G scandal.
Kapil Sibal, telecoms minister, called the new policy an attempt to “facilitate consolidation in the converged telecom service sector while ensuring sufficient competition.”
Experts say that the moves are welcomed by the troubled telecoms sector, which is characterised by stiff competition between providers that sometimes affects company performance.
India has the fastest growing cellular phone market in the world, currently. The numbers are estimated to be half a billion people with mobile phone subscriptions, making India the second largest mobile phone market in the world.
It also has 15 providers to choose from, compared with just 3 in the largest mobile market, China.
The new telecoms policy, aside from bringing about “consolidation,” plans to sell bandwidth at market prices and also plans for convenience issues. For example, users will be able to retain their phone numbers across mobile providers and states.