New virtual licence will be available to companies in India within a few weeks, according to Telecom Commission.
India is close to approving the entry of virtual operators into its mobile sector, it emerged this week.
The Telecom Commission, which operates under the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), has approved a recommendation issued by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to license mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), the Hindustan Times reported.
The newspaper quoted an official source at the Commission as saying that the state will create a new licence for virtual operators.
The new rules still require the approval of India’s telecom minister, but are expected to be implemented “within a few weeks,” the source said.
As it stands, some non-telco companies in India already have a foot in the telecoms market. As the Economic Times explained on Thursday, retailer Future Group has a partnership with Tata Teleservices that enables it to offer customers free airtime with their shopping.
The firm has about 5 million users of that scheme and sees a big opportunity to extend it by obtaining an MVNO licence; it expects to sign up 20 million customers, CEO Kishore Biyani told the paper.
And there are a number of other big retail groups in the country that could also benefit from the new MVNO licences.
Under the new rules, virtual licensees will be able to offer any telecoms service permitted under the recently-introduced unified licence regime that is facilitated by its host operator, the Hindustan Times said. They will also be able to work with multiple host operators.
The report claims that MVNOs are expected to help struggling network operators reduce their marketing and sales costs, as well as sharing some operational expenses. This could be particularly helpful to state-owned players BSNL and MTNL, which are keen to reduce costs, but they would need to obtain unified licences, it said.