MVNOs put services on hold

Ronendra Singh New Delhi | Updated on June 07, 2018 Published on June 07, 2018

MVNO as a concept in India will only work if there are attractive deals just as it is globally practis ed especially in Europe   -  alexsl

Of nearly 70 licences awarded, only a few have gone live

A majority of the nearly 70 companies that had taken licence to become mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) are yet to launch services.

MVNOs are operators who do not own spectrum or infrastructure. They lease capacity from existing large operators and offer niche services to specific client segments.

Globally, MVNOs have been successful in some markets but in India the concept could be delayed, according to experts. Indian policy makers have been thinking about introducing MVNOs for over 10 years, but it was only recently that the licences were issued.

BSNL awaits Minister’s nod

Barring a few companies that have partnered with state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), there are not many players who have launched their services. “BSNL is almost ready with the concept and is waiting for the Telecom Minister (Manoj Sinha) to give a date, so that it can be inaugurated by him, in Chennai,” an official privy to the development told BusinessLine.

The person said the company is excited as MVNO service will be another model of revenue generator for it; it hopes to launch the services across India in future. When asked about the relevance of MVNO when data prices have come down so drastically (to ₹10 per GB), the official said, “Till mobile services have relevance in the country, VNO has relevance. We can provide customised services to each of the pockets or circles that we operate in.”

For instance, BSNL can provide bulk SMSes to students as monthly package at minimal tariff, under the TRAI’s Tariff Order. He said various ‘niche’ services can be launched under MVNO and it is not only about connectivity in rural areas, but various services can be provided to urban crowds as well The company is partnering with Chennai-based Aerovoyce, which had a soft launch in December. Apart from Aerovoyce, BSNL will be also working with companies such as Philantron, Siti Networks and Sify Technologies, sources said.

However, according to experts, MVNO as a concept in India will only work if there are attractive deals just like it is globally practised like in Europe.

“Basic logical thing about MVNO is the extension of the brand and going B2C by a certain B2B companies. It has to be logical on what is the high point of MVNO. But, when data prices have come down so much, probability of MVNO services do not see much of an attraction,” said a Delhi-based expert.

And, that is why government and Department of Telecom, which was gung-ho about the project till last year, is not talking much about MVNO. And, large operators like Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone also seem not interested for such projects.

BusinessLine also sought some updates on the project from DoT Secretary Aruna Sundarajan, but she did not respond to the query.

Published on June 07, 2018
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