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BSNL In Talks With Companies For Virtual Network Operator Deals

State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) is planning to BSNLaugment further growth with a foray into voice and data retail business on the back of recently-unveiled mobile virtual network operators or MVNO policy framework by the government.

In March this year, telecom department (DoT) has notified MVNO guidelines after almost eight years of discussions with an aim to plug network coverage gaps in a way to allow retailers to rebrand and resell telecom services offered by incumbent telcos such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and BSNL within their local communities.

“We are formulating a uniform VNO framework that will allow transparent access on a non-exclusive basis so that any company can come and engage with us, and obtain voice minutes and data in bulk to resell it to their customers,” BSNL chairman Anupam Shrivastava told.

BSNL, according to Shrivastava is very enthusiastic about the new MVNO policy which he feels will help telco focus more aggressively on core mobile networks thereby leaving sales, marketing and customer service functions for retail partners.

The top executive however admitted a drawback in marketing and customer care operations of the state-driven company but believes that by employing virtual service operators, its engineers could focus on core technical competence of creating robust networks and ultra-modern technologies.

BSNL has a widespread 2G and 3G mobile network across India’s 20 service areas, excluding Delhi and Mumbai metropolitans, where another state-run telco Mahanagar Telephone Nigam (MTNL) operate services.

BSNL is eyeing such an initiative as a revenue booster, and is currently in discussions with at least 6-7 firms including Oxigen and DataWind, and is likely to unveil a comprehensive strategy soon to allow small entrepreneurs having MVNO license to resell mobile services via hardware platform enablers.

Both, Canadian tablet maker DataWind and Delhi-based digital wallet firm Oxigen approached state-driven operator to resell its network-based voice and data services through a newly-unveiled VNO regime, and according to BSNL, a decision is likely by CY 2016 end.

The telco is already in advanced talks with MVNE (Enabler) and MVNA (Aggregator) companies — Plintron Global Technologies and XIUS — to deploy network hardware and infrastructure services, which is a prerequisite for an MVNO service.

Plintron and XIUS have worldwide expertise in putting hardware components, according to Shrivastava, and this will allow any virtual firm to plug in to offer services without having to worry about capital expenditure.

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