Regulators

TRAI issues new consultation paper on VNO

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NEW DELHI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, which had in May 2015 recommended that Virtual Network Operators (VNO) in the telecom sector should be permitted for all segments of voice, data and video as well as for all services notified in the unified license (UL) for a period of ten years, is now working on providing recommendations for Access Service authorization for category B license with districts of a State as a service area.

The Department of Telecom had issued guidelines on 5 July 2016 for authorization for Access service in a Secondary Switching Areas (SSAs) as service area is in addition to the TRAI recommendations of May 2015. These guidelines are meant to introduce UL (VNO) Cat-B with Access Service authorization in a District of a State/UT. DoT further clarified vide their letter dated 12 September 2016 that there shall be no category of Direct Inward Dialing (DID) franchisee License in future.  At present, there are 259 franchisees operating in the country.

TRAI says that it appears that the objective of the guidelines/licenses issued by DoT is to streamline DID franchisee regime and provide them a better and broader business umbrella through proper licensing. It is evident that the guidelines/license conditions were not a part of TRAI’s recommendations on the subject and DoT has first issued these guidelines/ licenses and then sent the reference for the recommendations of the Authority on the matter

Resultantly, the regulator has issued a new consultation paper with ten questions for stakeholders. Stakeholders are to respond on 17 April with counter comments if any on 24 April 2017.

The regulator had in its recommendations said VNO should be introduced through proper "licensing framework" in the Indian telecom sector. For introduction of VNO in the sector, there should be a separate category of license namely UL (VNO). Like UL authorization, only pan-India or service area-wise authorizations may be granted under a UL (VNO) license.

TRAI said that VNOs are service delivery operators, who do not own the underlying core network but rely on the network and support of the infrastructure providers for providing telecom services to end users and customers.

VNOs can provide any or all telecom services, which are being provided by the existing telecom service providers.

VNO should be introduced in the network based on the basis of mutually accepted  terms and conditions between NSO and the VNO. The terms and conditions of sharing the infrastructure between the NSO and VNO are left to the market to determine.

VNOs should be permitted to set up their own   network equipment where there is no requirement of interconnection with other NSO.  However, they should not be allowed to own/install equipment where interconnection is required with another NSO.

Local Cable Operators (LCOs) and Multi Service Operators (MSOs) can become VNO and are permitted to share infrastructure with VNOs.

TRAI had said that there should not be a restriction on the number of VNO licensees per service area and there should be no restriction on the number of VNOs parented by an NSO.

The paper is available on

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