NEW DELHI: State-owned BSNL has opened talks with private telcos for roaming agreements. If the talks are successful, subscribers of private operators will finally be able to roam on BSNL’s nation-wide network. While all private telcos have roaming agreements with each other, BSNL, till date, has not opened up its networks for roaming deals. At present, only subscribers of state-owned MTNL (whose services are restricted to Delhi and Mumbai) are allowed to roam on BSNL’s networks. Private telcos have been seeking commercial agreements with BSNL on roaming for years now as the state-owned telco has a superior network in smaller towns, villages, on highways and railways. “We are evaluating the proposals from private operators. We are open to sharing our networks with them for commercial roaming agreements. If we can do it with one operator (MTNL), we can replicate such deals with other players too. Talks are on and we may conclude some agreements soon,” a top BSNL executive told ET. As per industry estimates, BSNL will get upwards of Rs 750 crore annually by signing commercial roaming deals with private operators. It is also learnt that BSNL wants a higher revenue sharing between operators for roaming customers, over and above the fixed 30-paise-per-minute charge the regulator has granted the operator on whose network the roaming call is terminated.
The logic: BSNL feels that since all operators treat their roaming customers differently by charging a much higher tariff that is not cost-based, there should be revenue share between roamer’s home network and the terminating network. Another reason why BSNL is opening talks with private telcos was on account of the department of telecom’s (DoT’s ) plans to make it mandatory for all telcos to open their networks for roaming after the introduction of 3G services. This is because; the DoT is of the view that there would only be a limited number of 3G service providers. Besides, 3G services are likely to be restricted to the metros and key circles initially. Therefore customers of these telcos who offer 3G will have to depend on 2G networks and services of other telcos. Another option for customers is to switch on to the 3G networks of BSNL since the PSU will be the only operator to roll-out these high-end services across all circles.
6 months ago