State-run telecom firm BSNL expects virtual network operators (VNOs) who have shown interest in partnering with it to start providing services by January.
"We have issued notice to invite companies interested in setting up virtual network enabler (VNE) platform. The process should be done by December," BSNL Chairman and Managing Director Anupam Shrivastava told PTI.
"We have received interest from several companies to work with us as VNO. I expect that by January, VNOs should be able to roll out their service," he added.
The VNE platform will facilitate firms interested in working as VNO to provide service without much investment on equipment to connect with BSNL network.
"VNE platform will be like plug and play for VNO. Whosoever is interested can work with BSNL and start providing service using VNE platform without taking much time," Shrivastava said.
The virtual network operator (VNO) will be an entity providing telecom services like mobile landline and Internet, but only as a retailer for full-fledged telecom operators such as BSNL, MTNL, Airtel and the like.
The entry of VNOs is expected to push down the cost of offering telecom services for the companies and even give them room to slash tariff.
The Department of Telecom (DoT) has received over 70 applications seeking permission to provide telecom services. As per a DoT official, the list of applicants for pan-India permit includes mobile device maker Datawind, Netraj Technology, Ometa Net Private Ltd, Sistemos Information Technology, Adpay Mobile Payment India, Powerner Communications, Tashee Buildcon, AK Edu Technologies, Intech Infratel and Varoaan Services.
Telecom operator Videocon, which provides mobile service in Punjab, has plans to expand it in other parts of the country but as a VNO.
The company plans to provide 3G and 4G mobile services as VNO which it can do by partnering companies like BSNL, Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel etc.
Sources in Videocon and BSNL have said that both the companies have had preliminary discussion in this regard.