Vodafone Essar has received an approval from India's Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) for including 'Internet Service Provider' as an additional item of activity for its company Vodafone Essar South Ltd. Earlier last month, PTI had reported that Vodafone had sought ISP and National Long Distance (NLD) licenses. An NLD license is understandable - Vodafone currently has to pay other mobile operators for carrying voice traffic for STD calls, but this interest in an ISP license is intriguing. When the last mile is still not open, and with other Telcos like Airtel and Reliance struggling to add wireline and broadband subscribers, why would Vodafone want to book a spot in the ISP graveyard that this country has become? Does Vodafone intend to bid for a Broadband Wireless Access license? Or does it expect the last mile to be opened, as has been recommended in the Economic Survey? Public sector companies BSNL and MTNL are the largest ISPs in India, largely due to legacy ownership of copper to the home. There were just 6.28 million Internet users in the country as of April 2009. The Economic Times reports that Vodafone has also sought permission to divest its tower infrastructure division into a separate arm, as many of the other Telecom operators in India have also been doing. In March, Vodafone set up a separate tower unit called Ortus Infratel & Holdings. A Look At Tower Companies Vodafone Essar, Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular had merged their tower businesses into a new entity called Indus Towers…
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