TRAI opens doors for Mobile Virtual Network Operators

TRAI has announced the release of recommendations on ‘Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO)’ enabling the introduction of MVNOs in the Indian Telecom network. Department of Telecommunications (DoT) vide its letter dated 20 th March, 2008 has sought TRAI’s recommendations on the need and timing for introduction of MVNO as well as terms and conditions of the license to be granted to such operators.

TRAI had undertaken the public consultation process on the various underlying issues relating to the introduction of MVNO in India such as concept and definition of MVNO, different Models, need and timing for entry of MVNO, regulatory approaches, licensing issues etc. by issuing a consultation paper on 5th May 2008, followed by an open house discussion in New Delhi on 16th June 2008. Keeping in view the comments received from stakeholders during the public consultation process, international experience and internal study, TRAI has formulated its recommendations on the need and timing for introduction of MVNO as well as terms and conditions of the license to be granted to such operators.

The introduction of MVNO is seen as a natural progression towards enhancing free market principles and contributing to the efficient use of existing telecommunication infrastructure.

The Authority recommends definition of a MVNO as “MVNO is a licensee in any service area that does not have spectrum of its own for access service, but can provide wireless (mobile) access services to its own customers through an agreement with the licensed access provider, UAS/CMTS Licensee”.

The spectrum for access services as on date would include: 2G, 3G and BWA spectrum. MVNO cannot participate in spectrum auction for Access Services in their service area, as they cannot have their own spectrum. Similarly, ISPs can become MVNOs if it does not have BWA spectrum.

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