TRAI asks if LCOs, MSOs be permitted to share infrastructure with VNOs

NEW DELHI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) wants to know if there is any need to introduce more competition in service delivery by the way of introduction of Virtual Network Operators (VNO) and whether this will pose any threat to Network Service Operators (NSO).


In a Consultation Paper on "Delinking of  the license for networks from delivery  of services by way  of Virtual Network Operators,” TRAI has also asked how Mergers & Acquisitions should be dealt with in the VNO/NSO licensing model and should the recently announced M&A guidelines issued by the Government for existing players be extended to cover VNOs.

It has asked the stakeholders to send in their responses by 5 January and counter-comments by 12 January. The Department of Telecommunications had on 7 July 2014 sought the  Authority's recommendations for delinking of licensing of networks from delivery of services by way of virtual network operators etc. including associated  issues   such as Adjusted Gross Revenue, terms of sharing of passive and active infrastructure under unified licensing regime.


TRAI had earlier released a pre-consultation paper on "Delinking of the license for  networks from delivery of  services by  way of  Virtual Network Operators" on 3 September 2014 highlighting some of the issues associated with the proposed licensing framework by the DoT and had solicited inputs and comments of the  stakeholders on these issues or any other issues involved in the proposed  framework.


The paper issued today raises specific issues for consideration by stakeholders. A consultation paper on 'Definition of revenue base (AGR) for the reckoning of license fee and spectrum usage charges' has been already issued on 31 July 2014.

Therefore, this consultation paper is   limited to the issues related to delinking of licenses for networks from the delivery of services by way of virtual network operators.


TRAI also wonders if a business case exists for introduction of VNOs in all segments of Voice, Data and Videos and whether VNOs should be introduced in all or some of the services notified in the Unified licence.

It also wants to know if there is sufficient infrastructure (active and passive including access spectrum) available with a TSP to meet its own requirements. If any TSP is able to share its infrastructure with VNOs, the regulator wants to know what the broad terms and conditions for sharing the infrastructure should be.

Can VNOs be allowed to create their own infrastructure to reach out to niche markets, the Regulator asks, or can local Cable Operators (LCOs) or Multi System Operators (MSOs) with cable networks be permitted to share infrastructure with VNOs to provide last mile connectivity.

The regulator wants to know if a VNO be issued a license at the National Level or for LSAs as in the case of UL or should it be based on the host NSO license areas and the duration of the licence.

It also has questions about any cross-holding restriction between a NSO and VNOs and the financial obligations of VNOs in the form of a) Equity & Networth b)Entry Fee c)PBG and d)FBG etc.

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