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Indians can ‘roam’ in Pakistan

New Delhi, March 13: The Centre will allow Indian mobile phone users roaming facility in Pakistan — for a four-month period initially — to continue the thaw in bilateral relations.

Announcing the decision, communications minister Arun Shourie said: “We have allowed roaming on mobile phones for four months only on an experimental basis and the experience will be reviewed on June 15.”

The request to allow roaming facilities in Pakistan had been made by Bharti Group chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal.

Shourie said Bharti (AirTel) and Hutch will be able to offer roaming services to their subscribers by Monday.

The government-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, which has a tie up with Spice, will provide roaming within a week.

The roaming calls will be costly — speaking to a number back home will cost between Rs 35-45 a minute, depending on whether the conversation occurs during peak hours or later. Each outgoing SMS will cost Rs 12 while a local call (within Pakistan) will cost Rs 25 per minute.

Subscribers of Reliance Infocomm and Tata Indicom will not be able to avail this facility since the companies use code division multiple access (CDMA) technology and Pakistan mobile phone firms use GSM technology.

An AirTel spokesperson said post-paid customers will be able to make and receive calls as well as send and receive SMS; pre-paid customers will only be able to receive calls and SMS.

Manoj Kohli, president Mobility, Bharti Tele-Ventures, said: “AirTel is pleased to announce another first for its customers… a bilateral roaming agreement between Mobilink in Pakistan and us. While this is great news for Indian cricket buffs in Pakistan, this would also help in bridging the business community ties.”

Shourie has clarified that subscribers in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast will not be able to “roam” in Pakistan and visa-versa.

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