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TRAI extends deadline for submission of comments on VNOs

MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has extended the last day for submission of comments on the pre-consultation paper ‘De-linking of licences for networks from the delivery of services by way of virtual network of operators (VNO)’ to 7 October. The last date for submission of comments was 17 September.

VNOs offer services by tying up with existing operators without buying spectrum.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) had sought TRAI’s recommendations for delinking of licences for networks from delivery of services by way of VNOs including associated issues of definition of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) under the Unified Licensing (UL) regime.

TRAI said the draft National Telecom Policy 2011 issued by DoT envisaged two categories of licences, namely network service operator (NSO) licence and service delivery operator (SDO) licence.

NSOs would be licensed to set up and maintain converged networks capable of delivering various types of services such as voice, data, video, broadcast, IPTV and VAS in a non-exclusive and non-discriminatory manner, whereas SDOs would be licensed to deliver tele services, internet/broadband, broadcast services, IPTV, VAS and content delivery services without having to set up the networks.

VNOs are SDO licensees who do not own the underlying network(s) but rely on the network and support of the infrastructure providers, telecommunications operators (who own towers, radio access networks, spectrum, etc.) for providing telecom services to end users/customers. As these operators do not have their own networks, they are termed virtual network operators.

VNOs can provide any telecom service being provided by the network providers viz. tele services (voice, data, video), internet/broadband, IPTV, value-added services, content delivery services, etc.

The most popular among the VNOs are mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). In the proposed licensing framework based on the VNO model, one issue could be whether the existing TSPs will have to obtain an NSO licence, or both NSO and SDO licences on migration to the new licensing regime.

The regulator had also sought the stakeholders’ comments on other issues like the nature of agreement between two licensees, sharing of infrastructure, allotment of numbering resources, spectrum usage charges and lawful interception.

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