Five Disruptions in India’s Mobile Industry: 2 – MVNO

By now, we should have seen a few real Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) in India, and not just the single pseudo MVNO in the form of Virgin Mobile. MVNOs don’t set up their own network – they piggyback on an existing operator’s network. They do, however, create their own brand and go-to-market strategy, and also own the customer relationship.

India’s cheap voice tariffs don’t leave much room for arbitrage. So, the play may be more on the distribution side – for example, Future Group may use its retail network to sell voice minutes just like it sells tens of thousands of other products. They will make a small margin and get an entry into a vertical without having to invest in spectrum.

The real action will come when Data MVNOs start coming to the fore — on the lines of what Amazon has done with the Kindle in the US.

Tomorrow: 3G

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.