Free nation-wide roaming, MNP on cards: Draft NTP

New Delhi: The government is mulling to allow nation-wide free roaming, frame exit policy for operators to surrender licence and set up a Telecom Finance Corporation to facilitate investment in the sector.

These, among others, are major focus areas of the draft New Telecom Policy 2011, likely to be unveiled next week by Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal.

Besides, the Telecom Ministry is also planning to allow inter-circle Mobile Number Portability (MNP), changing operator while retaining same number in different circles.

According to section on "financing" in the draft NTP, it has been proposed to create a special purpose Telecom Finance Corporation as a vehicle to mobilise and channelise financing for telecom projects in order to facilitate investment in the sector.

It proposes to include telecom sector projects within the ambit of financing from existing entities such as India Infrastructure Finance Corporation Limited (IIFCL) and also to rationalise taxes and levies affecting the sector to stimulate investment and making services more affordable.

The service providers, particulary who bagged licences in 2008, have been facing problems to get finances. The setting up of a dedicated institution would help the players complete roll outs within stipulated time frame.

On the exit policy, the draft NTP proposes to frame an appropriate exit policy, different from the surrender of licence to permit easy exit.

In fact the telecom ministry has asked the sector regulator Trai for its recommendations.

According to the draft, the Telecom Ministry is mulling to incorporate framework to increase the availability of spectrum for telecom services, to provide one nation-one licence across country and to permit sharing of networks.

Further, draft NTP-2011 will also calls for delinking of spectrum in respect of all future licenses and spectrum shall be made available at price through market related processes.

There is also plan to extend inter-circle mobile number portability facility on nationwide basis so that the users can retain the mobile number while shifting from one service area to another, irrespective of the service provider, the note

On January 1, this year, after taking charge of the Telecom Ministry, the post which was vacated due to the resignation of former Telecom Minister A Raja, Sibal had announced to bring in NTP-2011 which will replace the existing Telecom Policy-1999 in order to bring transparency and to provide level playing field to service providers.

Further, the note added that the draft NTP-2011 will ask to undertake periodic audit of spectrum utilisation to ensure that spectrum is being used efficiently, to prepare a roadmap for availability of spectrum every five years and to enact a separate Spectrum Act.