DataWind, better known for its low-cost tablet computers, has become the first company to apply for a licence to operate as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), and plans to offer internet subscription for as low as R99 per month from Diwali this year.
“The idea is to do ‘all you can eat’ browsing,” Suneet Singh Tuli, president and chief executive of DataWind, told FE. The Toronto-listed company, currently ranked the largest tablet company by shipments, is betting on its patented compression technology that allows consumers to browse the internet with 3% of the bandwidth for its MVNO operations, he said.
During the first 12 months of launch, DataWind will target the entry level first-time internet users, and aims to garner at least 10 million users for its data services, and hopes to replicate its previous experience of operating as an MVNO in UK market, which is now defunct.
Currently, Tuli said, DataWind is in talks with multiple operators, and is likely to sign up at least two service providers in the next couple of months.
DataWind has earmarked an investment of R100 crore for the MVNO foray, he said.
The development comes after the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) opened up permits for companies willing to offer services as virtual network operators, to increase penetration of mobile telephony and internet services. 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.