Chennai-based Plintron, a Virtual Network Operator (VNO) which has operations in 25 countries, has tied up with BSNL to become a Virtual Network Enabler (VNE) in India, reports PTI. Through its tie up with BSNL, it will be able to host any licensed VNO in India on its platform.

DoT currently has given out VNO licenses to 61 companies in India. Plintron, while receiving its MVNO license in April, said that its focus will be on “investing in building capacity (bandwidth), radio coverage (spectrum) and infrastructure in India, and is in talks with Network Service Operators (telcos and ISPs) to access their network on a VNO model especially for rural Indian markets.” Apart from aggregated infrastructure, Plintron will also provide cloud telephony, IoT, and other customised mobile solutions for enterprises.

A VNE is a telecom service provider that aggregates network infrastructure, mobile terminals, and business administration services and provides them to VNOs/MVNOs as a single package. VNEs do not have a direct relationship with the customer, and only provides services to businesses and enterprises (B2B).

On the other hand, VNOs are telecom service providers who provide services to users via a leased underlying network of a Network Service Operator (like Airtel, Idea, Vodafone), which they get at wholesale rates from telcos. VNOs 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.

Plintron claims to have VNO clients from various industry segments including retail, insurance, financial institutions, postal departments, IoT/M2M, and travel among others in their countries it operates in. The company’s tie up with BSNL comes after the state owned telco opened its network to VNOs and VNEs back in October 2016.

Plintron provides two kinds of services to MVNOs:

  • As a Mobile Virtual Network Enabler (MVNE), by providing services like, billing and revenue management, supply chain management, analytics, infrastructure and communications systems,  among others.
  • As a Mobile Virtual Network Aggregator (MVNA), it aggregates data and voice services and sells it to MVNOs at wholesale rates.

Plintron holds an MVNO license from the DoT for providing all services classified under the VNO regime, including Access Services (Voice and Data), all India ISP license (for providing broadband) and other licenses for providing aggregated telecom infrastructure. The ‘All services’ license costs Rs 7.5 crore with companies requiring to show a minimum net worth of Rs 10 crore.

Competition heating up in MVNO space

Plintron will also compete with Japan-based NTT Communications which is also looking at providing MVNE services and other managed IT services. NTT Comm had received an MVNO license in April. Media reports have mentioned that tablet maker Datawind and retail giant Future Group may also launch an MVNO. Videocon had also mentioned that it might re-launch telecom services in India through the MVNO route.