Commission greenlights introduction of VNOs

29 Mar 2016

India’s Telecom Commission has opened the door to virtual network operators (VNOs), approving the introduction of a new category of unified licence, the Economic Times reports. Licence fees for the new concessions will vary depending on the service to be resold by the VNO, with a comprehensive licence costing INR75 million (USD1.12 million), whilst a long-distance licence will cost INR12.5 million and a national-level authorisation for internet services will be priced at around INR1.5 million. The licences will be valid for ten years. The commission is reported to have accepted in full the recommendations from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

As noted by TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the TRAI published recommendations on VNOs, referring to all operators that do not own their own network, in May 2015. The TRAI proposed that VNOs should begin operations only through ‘mutual agreement’ with network service operators (NSOs), leaving market forces to determine the terms and conditions for sharing infrastructure. The regulator also made it clear that VNOs should not be limited to the mobile segment, suggesting a broader remit, including wireline and broadband networks and stretching to include the installation and operation of their own last-mile infrastructure. ‘In the converging digital environment, where the boundaries between voice, data and video are blurring,’ the TRAI noted, ‘it would be unnecessarily restrictive to confine the services of VNOs to any particular service segment.’