"Over 70 companies have applied for VNO licence. In this, around 10 applications are for pan-India service," Telecom Secretary J S Deepak told PTI.
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 likes.
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.
According to a Department of Telecom (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.
When contacted, Datawind CEO Suneet Singh Tuli said the VNO service will have far-reaching implications which will create innovation and opportunity in the sector.
For securing a VNO licence, interested companies will need to pay a one-time non-refundable entry fee for authorisation of each service they want to provide and for each service area where they wish to operate.
The total amount of entry fee will be subject to a maximum of Rs 7.5 crore as per the guidelines.
"VNO shall use underutilised telecom infrastructure of national telecom operators. This will reduce cost of ownership on telecom companies to provide telecom services at more affordable rates," internet firm Bluetown's country MD Satya N Gupta said.