Ideas picked up at Euro CPR from our African colleagues, coming out in multiple fora/countries/forms.
Without direct government action, other than enabling policies such as the abolition of international gateway monopolies, and the kind of fuss that has accompanied the regulation of roaming charges within Europe, roaming has been abolished in East Africa.
Why not in South Asia?
Why can this not be done in South Asia? Telenor has a presence in three of the major markets in the SAARC region: dominant in Bangladesh; significant in Pakistan and getting established in India. Airtel is in India and Sri Lanka. What if they simply allow their customers to roam at normal rates within their networks?
Then we might see Mobitel in Sri Lanka take the lead in establishing a consortium with BSNL in India and Dhiraagu in the Maldives to offer a similar facility to its roaming customers. The consortia would grow, and roaming rates would come down from their present rapacious highs. Unless the competitive response kicks in early, the first mover may even gain some new business.
Whatever happens, the end objective of regional integration will be served. And at the next SAARC Summit, the leaders of the region’s governments can take credit for having implemented at least one of the items of the Colombo Declaration.