In the year 2012, the telecom sector witnessed a lot of turbulence. There seemed to be confusion and chaos all around. Cut to present, things may not completely settled, but seems like some form of clarity is now settling in. All in all, there are quite a few interesting things to look forward to in 2013, though all may not spell good news for you, the consumer.
1) Goodbye Roaming
It is expected that from March 2013, the Indian telecom subscribers may not have to pay roaming charges when they hop between circles. The proposition to abolish roaming charges was a part of National Telecom Policy 2012, which had received a nod from Cabinet in May 2012.
There has been some resistance from the telecom operators for implementation of this. One of the key reasons for this resistance is that currently 10 percent of revenues of telecom companies comes from roaming and they are not too happy about letting go of the same. Also the telecom companies have cited certain technical issues that need to be sorted before this becomes a reality.Having said that, TRAI is currently in the process of reviewing this matter. It is likely that most things will be ironed out in due course of time and Indians will finally be able to kiss goodbye to roaming charges in the near future.
2) Mobile tariffs to go up
It is no secret that mobile tariffs in India are amongst the lowest in the world. Most telecom operators have already shared that they are finding it difficult to sustain operations and even considering increasing the telecom tariff. Even 2012 saw increase in certain tariffs, and 2013 it is expected that there will be a marginal increase in telecom tariff during the course of 2013 as well. Considering that telcos are under pressure to introduce consumer-friendly initiatives like 'abolishing roaming', the hike in tariff may happen sooner rather than later in 2013.
3) 3G rates going down
While the calling tariff may see an upward trend, the cost of using 3G data will likely get cheaper. In a bid to get more users to try the next generation 3G services telecom operators will be looking at offering better cost-effective deal to the masses. Airtel has already announced a '3G sharing plan' and one can look forward to many more innovative and pocket friendly plans being introduced in this year.
4) Nation-wide MNP
Mobile Number portability is the service that allows customers to switch operators and yet retain their mobile number. However, up till now this service is only available within the same circle.
Under the current provision, if a person is living in Delhi and has to shift to Pune (or any other circle apart from Delhi/NCR), then they will not be able to retain the same number. This is expected to change in 2013 as 'One Nation One Number' becomes a reality.
5) More thrust towards 4G services
With consumers seeking faster Internet connections, it is expected that telecom operators will be pushing 4G services in India. Airtel is currently offering 4G (LTE) services in Kolkata, Bengaluru and Pune and it is expected that it will be introducing these services to other states as well in 2013.
Additionally, there are also rumours doing the rounds that Aircel too may launch its 4G services soon. As a matter of fact, Aircel was expected to launch 4G services in Chennai by December 2012 but failed to meet the deadline.
While 4G is data-only at the moment, we will likely see voice and other services rolled out over 4G in 2013.