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Datawind and Future Group in talks with telcos for an MVNO launch: reports

Tablet maker Datawind and retail giant Future Group are currently in discussions with telecom companies for reselling cellular services via the MVNO route, reports ET. Future Group-owned telecom company T24 Mobile had earlier submitted an application with the DoT for an MVNO license, while the report added that T24 has now tied up with Tata Teleservices for launching its MVNO operations. MediaNama has written to Future Group asking for confirmation and will update the story once they respond.

Apart from this, a different ET report said that the Toronto stock exchange-listed Datawind would be investing close to Rs 100 crore via FDI route for supporting its MVNO launch. It is also in talks with state-owned telco BSNL for reselling voice and data, the report added. Note that Datawind had earlier confirmed with MediaNama that it has sought application from DoT for an MVNO license. It was one of the 70 companies that sent in an application for the MVNO license. Datawind had also announced plans of launching a 4G smartphone, bundled with data services back in September 2016. It already offers free internet packs through tie-ups with telcos like Reliance Commuincations for its low-cost Akash tablets.

In the case of T24, it used to operate telecom services by way of “franchisee agreements” with third parties. This was basically a workaround for an MVNO but re-selling of data now requires a license from the DoT. Big Bazaar used to provide talk-time under T24 as a form of reimbursal to customers for the purchase of goods from their stores. Similarly, Tata Teleservices had tied up with Virgin for Virgin Mobile which ran on top of Tata Teleservices network back in 2008.

Other companies looking to launch MVNO services

Chennai-based Aerovoyce recently received approval for MVNO operations from the DoT; it plans to launch commercial cellular operations focused on South circles by 14th April 2017. Videocon Telecom had also announced in September last year that it would be taking the MVNO route for rolling out its telecom services. It had shut down its telecom operations in Punjab last month and also paused its 4G network plans.

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Apart from this, the DoT released a list of companies who had earlier applied for a license under Category B segment. Telecom regulator TRAI is also examining whether hotels and other big chains that offer in-house calling facility and WiFi should buy and MNVNO license to offer Internet access. Note that an MVNO license has an entry fee of Rs 7.5 crore for offering ‘all services’ including data, and voice. Companies will also have to deposit a bank guarantee of Rs 1 lakh.

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