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February 27, 2017

GSMA chairman urges telcos to ‘kill the international roaming tariffs’

By Joe Clark

The chairman of the Groupe Special Mobile Association (GSMA) has called for an end to international roaming charges.

Sunil Bharti Mittal, the billionaire chairman of Bharti Enterprises, owner of Bharti Airtel the largest telecoms company in India, has urged the telecoms industry to stop fighting regulators in the battle for lower roaming rates.

Speaking at Mobile World Congress, Mittal told of how he still relies on WI-Fi when he travels in order to avoid the often exuberant rates that accompany international travel. He also stated that telcos in Europe were wrong to fight the European Commission on the matter.


Sunil Bharti Mittal.

In Barcelona Mittal said: “As the chairman of GSMA, one of the major tasks to mind is fix the problem of international roaming. The bill shocks are creating a lot of dishonest in the minds of customers.”

“It is time that I call upon the entire fraternity of the telecom sector to come together to kill the international roaming tariffs that are presently prevalent. It is time that we put minds of customers at ease.”

Mittal also wishes for telcos to come together and embrace mergers, expressing hope that regulators will be less combative of mergers in future. He believes that large countries need as few as three operators, which in turn will make the installation of 5G networks easier.

Mittal said: “We are truly making the world connected. There is no reason for us not to put our minds together to create a situation where customers can safely use their mobile phones both for calling as well as data anywhere in the world.”

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“I personally feel that with this announcement today, we will be able to lay the foundation of a truly global mobile network for the first time. I am sure the customers will be able to switch on their phones when they land in any country, anywhere in the world.”

Bharti Airtel has also announced plans to abandon roaming charges for Indian customers today.

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