Lebara, Lycamobile considering India MVNO launch

14 May 2015

International mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) Lebara and Lycamobile are expected to be amongst the first companies to enter the Indian wireless sector as resellers, Asia OTT writes. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, sector watchdog the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) submitted recommendations on the introduction of virtual network operators (VNOs) earlier this month, advocating the creation of a new category of licence for VNOs.

Lebara is reportedly keen to begin talks with Indian cellcos regarding potential partnerships, with a spokesperson for the company quoted as saying: ‘We constantly review MVNO opportunities in multiple geographies, including India. We engage with operators with whom we believe we can build a sustainable relationship. Lebara’s long-term vision is to become the number one brand of choice for the global migrant community.’ Lycamobile, meanwhile, was tipped as a favourite to launch MVNO services as it already offers international calling services in India as Lyca Telecom. An unnamed industry source was also cited as saying that the group was considering entering India’s mobile segment as a virtual provider: ‘Given that Lycamobile is one of the biggest MVNOs in the world, it is logical to expect them to expand their existing operations.’

The already high level of competition in the Indian wireless sector has led commentators to question the nation’s capacity to sustain MVNOs: India’s wireless space is currently served by twelve operators, with a thirteenth expected to launch soon and tariffs are already amongst the lowest in the world. In its recommendation, the TRAI suggested that MVNOs might thrive in poorly served rural communities, although the limitations of the existing network infrastructure in these areas would provide a different set of challenges.