Monday, September 01, 2014

MVNO in India #1: 'Not Truly' MVNO Failed in Most Cases

Though MVNO is not legally approved in India, there are several trials of MVNO-like or Pesudo-MVNO operations. World’s one of the most popular MVNO, UK-based Virgin Mobile tied up with Tata Docomo, the telecom arm of legendary Tata Group. Virgin Mobile was selling CDMA & GSM voice and CDMA data over dongles; concentrates on GSM only now – offers voice & 2G internet.

Tata Docomo has another tie up with Future Group – Talk24 Mobile (GSM). It is more like a royalty program for Future’s retail customers. We can’t say it’s flop as no confirmed data available.
Aircel has made similar type of agreement with Blyk Mobile, a popular MVNO in UK. Simpossible was another such service over Aircel, promised to offer some free voice, 
In 2008 there were some companies incl. some foriegn companies wanted to be roll out MVNO based mobile services in India. Orange was rumored to make a deal with RCom.
RCom has been exploring the MVNO based business opportunities. In 2008 RCom want to provide global roaming at a very affordable range by entering into 57 countries via MVNO route. In May 2008 RCom’s subsidiary Reliance Globalcom acquired UK-based MVNO Vanco.
Vodafone Netcruise – powered by MTS EvDO is the only MVNO- type initiative that is limited to data services. The website reads, ‘Vodafone Mobile’ branded services are being offered by MTS through a brand franchise with Mobile Commerce Solutions Limited (MCSL). MCSL will provide MTS with designing, marketing and servicing of ‘Vodafone Mobile’ branded products being powered by MTS.
Even country’s largest mobile operator once said that Indian mobile eco system does not allow existence of MVNO and they would not make any MVNO deal. But that was in 2008 – when Indian telecom domain was packed with fierce competition, cheapest tariff and multi-sim environment.
During that time MVNO-like ventures are mostly failed. Virgin Mobile, inspite of their innovative tariffs and market’s most eye-catching ads did not make a success. Opting cdma platform initially and not utilizing cdma’s data ready technology were their biggest mistake. Also as it was a brand sharing agreement VMI could directly compete with parent company, Tata Docomo. Later VMI joins GSM gang and is operating til now but not getting much importance. Talk24 has a different business model and it is still going on.
Aircel’s such approaches did not work as the promotion was not well-handed. Reliance is also not much vocal about its MVNO business overseas. Vodafone Netcruise is flopped also, though no official data is available.
However in last years the market has been changed a lot. Exit of players, consolidation and power to incumbents helped the industry to reshape its future.
At this situation MVNO can be most welcomed as a reader what do you think do let us know via comments .
In the next article we will discuss on the future of virtual mobile operators and the expansion of the market for digital India.
This article was first published by telecomtalk.info  on July 14, 2014.
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