DoT wants TRAI’s suggestions on MVNO policy once again

DoT (Department of Telecommunications) wants TRAI’s (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) suggestions on mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) policy and how it can be implemented in across India yet again. MVNOs are companies which don’t own wireless network infrastructure, but resell talk time and bandwidth bought from licensed telecom operators.

These resellers can buy network access from companies that own spectrum and the necessary support infrastructure, and then package these for end users. So the former type of service providers concentrate on marketing and customer service, while keeping the rates attractive. The latter doesn’t have to invest in these areas unless it’s selling excess capacity only and offering its own branded services to regular subscribers side by side.

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Two examples of currently operating MVNOs include Virgin Mobile UK and Lycamobile. TRAI suggested that MVNOs be permitted to partner with not more than a single network provider in a district and set up their own infrastructure. This recommendation was put forth in 2011. Previously, different licenses for each such as internet service provider (ISP) and Unified Access Service Licence (UASL) were awarded to companies.

Under the present policy of issuing unified licenses for several services, DoT wished to obtain some clarity on how certain areas must be handled. For example, the department wishes for TRAI’s recommendations on how national long distance, international and internet provider services, which are banded under a single license can be purchased and distributed by MVNOs.

The Economic Times hints that these MVNO policy initiatives were abandoned by the exiting UPA government. Hopefully, the present authorities will make proper use of TRAI’s recommendations requested by DoT.