Trai advocates separate licence for mobile virtual operator

August 6th, 2008 - 9:53 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 6 (IANS) Telecom watchdog Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Wednesday recommended to the government granting of separate licences to operators who do not have their own spectrum for offering mobile services but have a tie-up with an existing player to do so. In a series of recommendations on mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) - an operator who does not own spectrums - that were forwarded to the Department of Telecommunication (DoT), it also said market forces be allowed to drive the arrangements between mobile operators and MVNOs, without any regulatory moves by the government.

In a letter to Telecom Secretary Siddhartha Behura, TRAI chairman Nripendra Misra wrote: “The recommendations have been attempted to ensure that the consumer interests are protected and customers are not adversely affected by an interruption of service following a dispute between their MVNO and the parent Mobile Network Operator (MNO).”

TRAI said MVNOs should be introduced as a distinct service provider with its own licensing and regulatory framework under the Indian Telegraph Act.

It said the introduction of MVNO would be a natural progression towards enhancing free market principles and would contribute to an efficient use of the existing telecom infrastructure.

“There is no rollout obligation for MVNOs and FDI (foreign direct investment) limit is 74 percent, which is same as that of MNO. Market forces would drive the arrangement/agreement between MNO and MVNO and, therefore, no regulatory diktat is required and there is no limit on number of MVNOs attached to an MNO,” Trai said.

But it said the agreement with MNO has to be submitted before issuance of licence to MVNO by DoT.

Also, it is the MNO who would pay charges for utilisation of spectrum by the MVNO.

The entry fee for MVNO would be 10 percent of what MNOs paid, subject to a maximum of Rs.50 million for metro and category A service areas, Rs.30 million for category B service areas, and Rs.10 million for category C service areas.

TRAI has recommended that the annual licence fee be the same as that for MNO.

Allocation of numbers, number portability, interconnection with other service providers and roaming are to be provided by the parent MNO.

This would protect subscribers if the agreement between the MNO and the MVNO collapses, or the MVNO quits the service, TRAI said.

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