Telecom panel clears entry of virtual operatorshttps://indianexpress.com/article/business/business-others/telecom-panel-clears-entry-of-virtual-operators/

Telecom panel clears entry of virtual operators

These VNOs, after getting a licence for operations, will be able to buy minutes and bytes to offer voice and data services, respectively.

In order to allow telecom service providers to improve utilisation of their networks, the Telecom Commission on Monday cleared a proposal to allow licensing of virtual network operators (VNOs). These VNOs, after getting a licence for operations, will be able to buy minutes and bytes to offer voice and data services, respectively.

Currently, Department of Telecommunications (DoT) awards two kinds of licences for telecom services. First one is infrastructure providers licence for companies operating telecom infrastructure, and the second is unified licence for companies providing various kinds of network services.

The VNO, after obtaining licence from the government for its operations, can function under its own brand offering a plethora of services such as mobile telephony, broadband, wireless hotspots, etc at the last mile and in areas where stressed balance sheets of large telecom companies do not allow them to invest for rolling out infrastructure.

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A government official, on condition of anonymity, said that a third kind of licencing regime “UL-VNO”, or unified licence for virtual network operator will be set up. These licences, the official said, will be awarded to service providers that are separate from those operating the telecom network.

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This would allow telecom companies to leverage network and spectrum investment made by them, as the new licencing regime will allow the virtual network operators to invest in setting up almost 70 per cent to 80 per cent of the equipment required to offer communication services.

The official informed that once Minister of Communication and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad grants his approval to the commission’s recommendations on the new licence, it would be within weeks that network operators such as BSNL, MTNL, Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, etc will be able to sign deals with VNOs to be able to better utilise their unused capacities in some circles.

“We will be fundamentally separating the concept of network and services in telecommunications, as against the previous segregation of network and infrastructure,” the government official said.

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