Digital payments company Oxigen Services will launch telecom services as a Virtual Network Operator (VNO) by the end of 2016, reports PTI. The report mentions that Oxigen is currently in talks with state-run telco BSNL and some other telecom network operators.
Oxigen will be focusing on data services to begin with and will initially launch the services in the North East and Central India, before expanding to other circles. They will look to provide value added services, bundling financial products and e-commerce as part of the service, to leverage Oxigen Wallet. Apparently, they are in talks with companies outside India with VNO business expertise, as well as help Oxigen set up its network.
The Department of Telecommunication (DoT) has just issued guidelines on the Virtual Network Operator policy. A little over two months back, the DoT had approved the entry of VNOs in India under the Unified License agreement, which will allow them to buy spectrum or infrastructure from existing telcos to provide services under its own brand. The entry fee is Rs 7.5 crore for players looking to offer ‘all services’, including internet, and voice services.
State run telcos to the fore for VNOs
High spectrum pricing forces most private telecom operators to increase tariff, hence sharing spectrum with VNOs is unlikely. As we’ve mentioned earlier, probably the only opening that VNOs have is with BSNL that has shown active interests in spectrum sharing and other roaming deals with private telcos in the country. On the other hand, the struggling MTNL needs to open up, and allow its underutilized spectrum and right-of-way access to be used by anyone willing to pay for it. More on this here.
Bharat Bill Payments Operating Unit nod
Last month, Oxigen and PayU received an in-principle approval from the RBI to setup a Bharat Bill Payments Operating Unit (BBPOU). The approval from the RBI will allow BBPOUs to connect with the central bill payments and settlement system called Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS) of National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
It’s worth noting that Oxigen had previously partnered with NPCI to launch eKYC service, in September 2014, and to launch a non-banking instant money transfer service called OxiCash Money Transfer, in May 2013.