The Department of Telecommunication has received more than 70 applications from companies in the country for acquiring an MVNO license, reports Zee Business. Some of the companies which have applied include tablet device manufacturer DataWind and Kishore Biyani owned retail giant FutureGroup. MediaNama was not able to independently verify these claims.

Note that FutureGroup already owns a telecom company named Talk 24 Mobile. The group had earlier tied up with T24 by way of “franchisee agreements” which technically weren’t VNO’s but can be considered as a workaround. Big Bazaar provides talk-time as a form of reimbursal to customers through purchase of goods from their stores. Similarly, Tata Teleservices tied up with Virgin for Virgin Mobile which ran on top of Tata Teleservices back in 2008.

Tweaks in guidelines: While laying guidelines for MVNOs, the DoT said that an MVNO can tie up with as many telecom operators it wanted, but only one operator per access service type. This means one service provider for data, one for NLD, one for ILD etc. However, sources close to DoT told MediaNama that MVNOs are now allowed to take data services from multiple operator’s instead of just one operator. For voice and sms they can tie up with only one operator. A lowdown of the 8-point guideline can be read here.

Entry fee: The DoT had approved the entry of VNOs in India earlier in March. A company can acquire a MVNO in India under the Unified License agreement, with an entry fee of Rs 7.5 Crore for players looking to offer ‘all services’ including internet, and voice. MVNOs who want to offer their services on a pan-India basis will have to shell out Rs 15 lakh as entry fee, and up to Rs 1.25 crore for both nation and international long distance telecom license—as suggested by the TRAI through a recommendation paper released on May 2015.

India VNO License

VNOs Explained:  VNOs are telecom service providers that provide services to users via a leased underlying network of an Network Service Operator (NSO) or telco, which they get at wholesale rates from telcos. They also work as a reseller for telcos, billing directly to its customers without operating technical facilities or tech support, relying on infrastructure providers for both. In reality, VNOs can buy talktime and bandwidth in bulk to sell it to its users.