Low-cost tablet manufacturer DataWind Inc is expecting to receive its mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) licence in the next few weeks and hopes to roll out its sim card service by year-end. The company, which has tied up with Reliance Communications, plans to offer internet subscription free for an year as part of bundled offer, or as low as R20 per month.
Talking to media after inaugurating its manufacturing facility in Hyderabad, Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO and founder of DataWind, said that the entry of VNOs is expected to push down the cost of offering telecom services for the companies and slash tariff as well. The Toronto-listed company will target the entry level first-time internet users and aims to garner more than 10 million users for its data services in the emerging markets.
“We hope to get the MVNO licence in the next few weeks and will partner with network operators. We hope to launch data plans with sim cards for as low as R20 to reach out to more people,” Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO and founder of DataWind, said.
The company plans to launch 4G LTE-enabled smart phones for as low as R1,500 and upwards as part of its plan to become an low-cost internet provider for emerging markets. It has a market share of 85% only for low-cost tablets which include a range of UbiSlate brand. The Indian tablet market grew 14.4% in Q2 2016, DataWind leads with 27.5%, says a IDC report.
To recall, the Department of Telecom has released licence guidelines for virtual network operators (VNO), opening the door for a new class of players which will act like retailers for telecom service providers. The virtual network operators are treated as extension of telecom service providers and they would not be allowed to install equipment interconnecting with network of other telecom operators.
VNOs are companies that offer telecommunications services without having to own a network of their own, but will ride on existing networks of incumbent operators.
DataWind had earlier this year signed an MoU with the Telangana government for setting up its Hyderabad facility with a phased investment of R100 crore. The Hyderabad facility will manufacture two million units in the first year, whereas at full capacity it can reach up to five million units. The company will generate employment of around 1,000 employees of which the company has already hired 500 employees. The company has an assembly unit in Amritsar and had in 2013 set-up India’s first and only manufacturing facility for touch panels. DataWind’s first unit in Amritsar manufactures more than one lakh units per month. The company is planning to one more manufacturing facility in the Eastern part of the country for affordable tablets and low-cost mobile phones.