How to become an Internet Service Provider in India?

How to become an Internet service provider in India?

In this article we provide information on how to become an Internet service provider in India

Quick Summary

  1. Plan your business and network
  2. Research laws and apply for an ISP license
  3. Start evaluating for hardware/software vendors
  4. Get your ISP license approval from DoT
  5. Purchase hardware, software and bulk bandwidth
  6. Set up network infrastructure
  7. Start marketing with brochures, banners and free WiFi advertising
  8. Build customers; give them quality service and support
  9. Become an Internet Service Provider in India!

OR simply contact us and we shall help you get started!

[Note: If you wish to become a WISP – we recommend you to read this article: How to become a WISP in India?]

So, you want to become an Internet service provider in India? We’ll guide you with this tutorial. We have broken this guide into 3 sections:

  1. Legal Factors – The licenses required and guidelines to comply to become an Internet service provider in India.
  2. Business Factors – A section explaining infrastructure and start-up costs, marketing and sales strategy and support channels.
  3. Technical Factors – The technologies you need become an Internet service provider – Syslog server, data servers, Broadband / WiFi Management Software and user authentication systems.



There first thing you’re going to need is an ISP license to become an Internet service provider in India. This is issued by the Department of Telecom. There are 3 types of service areas under one Unified ISP license issued by the Department of Telecom in India. These licenses are allocated on the basis of service areas:

  • Service Area – Category A: This ISP license enables you to conduct business across ANY state/city in India.
  • Service Area – Category B: This ISP license enables you to conduct business in any of the twenty Territorial Telecom Circles and the four Metro Telephone Systems of Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta and Chennai of the DoT.
  • Service Area – Category C: This includes any Secondary Switching Area (SSA) with their geographical boundaries defined by Depart of Telecom. The SSAs of each of the four Metro Telephone Systems of Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta and Chennai and Telephone Systems of four major cities of Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune with their geographical boundaries defined as on 1.4.1997, however, stand excluded from Category ‘C’ as they already form a separate Category ‘B’ Service Area.

You can learn more about how to apply for an ISP License by clicking here:




Where do you plan to provide the Internet service?

Have you considered a plan for monetization of the Internet service?

Have you considered the pricing plans you would like to offer to your end-users?

How many users do you expect to sign up for your Internet service in that area?

Do you have a business plan to become an Internet service provider?

How do you intend to provide support to your end-users?

These are some of the questions we plan to answer in this section of how to become an Internet service provider in India.

A. Plan your business

The first thing you’re going to need is a business plan. You can get a sample business plan by clicking here. This plan will answer most of your questions on how to start plan your ISP business.

B. Find your suppliers

The second thing you’re you going to need is find local suppliers of wholesale bandwidth. This requires a bit of local business intelligence. Find out who can provide you with a leased line in the area you wish to serve. You can buy wholesale bandwidth from more than one provider to ensure maximum up-time for your users.

C. Estimate your costs

The cost of raw bandwidth in India is very high. Once you have negotiated with your local supplier to purchase wholesale bandwidth, you need to start noting all your estimated costs:

  • Cost of Room / Area to keep data servers
  • Cost of Hardware / Software
  • Cost of Service
  • Cost of Marketing and Sales

D. Create pricing plan and monetization strategy

Once you have a basic understanding of your estimated costs, you need to start creating a pricing plan for broadband / WISP service. This pricing plan needs to be carefully thought through based on your estimated users and their demand for data.

E. Marketing Strategy

How do you plan to reach out to your customers? Many local ISPs in India use sales agents, brochures, bus depot advertisements and digital marketing (or WiFi Advertising) to reach out to their potential customers. Plan a clear marketing strategy.

F. Support Strategy

Think of a multichannel support strategy – Set up your call center, email ticket system and connect it with your billing management software etc. The key to starting a successful ISP business is having fantastic support.




The last thing and the perhaps the most important thing to consider is the technology that will power your Internet service provision company.

A. Method of Delivery

Ethernet – The first thing to consider here is method of delivery. You can choose to have lay your own leased line (fibre optic cables) or rent such lines from an existing company’s network. This method can be slightly more expensive the latter method.

WiFi – Alternatively, you can also choose to deliver your Internet service by creating a WiFi network. (Becoming Wireless Internet Service Provider). This method of delivery has lower quality of service than the former method.

B. Source of Delivery

Whether your method of delivery is Ethernet or WiFi; you will need to bring your purchased bulk bandwidth to a centralised location before you deliver it.

This location will contain your syslog server, user-data server, and deliveries/management server. You will also need to buy a broadband or WiFi management software to create user plans, track sites as per government laws for Internet provision in India.

Links for references:

  1. Top 5 WiFi Management Software
  2. How to become a WISP in India?

Note: At Muft Internet, we help people become Internet Service Providers in India. We are an ISP consultancy firm dedicated to help aspiring, small and mid-sized Internet service providers in India overcome their technical or legal roadblocks. We have worked on several low cost ISP setups for people who want to start their own ISP business.
Plan your own ISP/WISP business, apply for an ISP license, deploy your network or buy bulk bandwidth – our expert ISP consultants are here to help you.

Learn how you can become an Internet service provider and start your own WISP/ISP business with less than ₹ 8 lacs and within 120 days.

Internet Censorship in India by Governmental Bodies & Political Groups

( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Big brother’s watching you. Big brother wants to control what you see.

And no, we are not talking about the American government. This time, we speak up against the Indian government’s political censorship on the Internet.

“The OpenNet Initiative classified India as engaged in “selective” Internet filtering in the political, conflict/security, social, and Internet tools areas in 2011.”

So, what exactly makes a Government body competent to decide what information we should see and what we shouldn’t? Well, there is no clear structure. At present, any form of censorship could pass in the name of “National Security”. But most of these blocks are politically charged.

The website LiveLeak has broken many serious stories in the past during the Arab Spring and to highlight issues like police brutality in the United states.

Live Leak also has a lot of useless content that may not interest you. But that doesn’t mean the Government can choose to ban this entire site?

There needs to be systematic process in how we censor information. We can’t just have a random approach.

Remember when Ravi Shankar Prasad’s (current IT Minister) team tried to ban porn sites? Do they really believe that all the porn on the Internet is present only on 1200 odd websites? NEWSFLASH: There are millions of porn websites and it technologically impossible to block even 10% of it.

Remember when Kapil Sibal’s (ex-IT minister) team wanted to block Google and Facebook when they found out that there was offensive material against Indian National Congress? – (Impossible to prescreen Content: says Facebook and Google -) DNA India

We need to fight harder (more than ever) to protect our free Internet.

“The national security policy of the world’s biggest democracy is undermining freedom of expression and the protection of Internet users’ personal data.” – Reporters without borders

“In 2009, the Supreme Court ruled that bloggers and moderators can face libel suits and even criminal prosecution for comments posted on their websites.” – Freedom House report

“I am mystified by our government’s approach both to the internet and to the millions of Indians using it. It does not adhere to the values of our republic and democracy. This matter needs to be addressed urgently, for which I propose to file a PIL in the Supreme Court. Don’t kill the freedom of speech, change the IT Rules” – Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Member of Parliament

“In July 2006, the Indian government ordered the blocking of 17 websites, including some hosted on the Geocities, Blogspot and Typepad domains. Initial implementation difficulties led to these domains being blocked entirely.” – Outlook India

“n an order dated 13 June 2013, the Department of Telecom (DoT) directed Indian Internet service providers (ISPs) to block 39 websites. The order didn’t specify a reason or law under which the websites were blocked.” – The Times of India

Read about how your rights are being violated here:

Digital India ‪#‎internetcensorchip‬ ‪#‎freeinternet‬ ‪#‎muftinternet‬

The best possible analogy on why #NetNeutrality should matter!


Imagine if Muft Internet was a big pharma company and we would make a claim that we will give free medicines to ALL Indians.

We start by offering free medicines for 30 diseases. In the mean time, a lot of small and mid sized drug and pharma companies start shutting down.

People get pissed off as they aren’t getting medicines for a lot of other diseases easily. You’re lucky if you have 1 of those 30 diseases… if its something else, sorry too bad – you need to pay extraordinary amounts to get medicine!

We later offer free medicines for 30 more diseases and start advertising on TV on ‘how we would love it if people in India would have free medicine’. We do this to improve our PR image.

So 60 free medicines for 60 diseases in total. In the mean time, a lot more mid sized and large companies start shutting down.

No matter the illness, we only offer 60 different medicines. It’s all free, but only 60 diseases can be cured.

Do you understand the analogy? Or should I further break it down for you?

Comic Image Source: Unknown – Destroying Net Neutrality in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Bolivia

We have been writing against’s net neutrality principles for a while now. We have raised key ethical concerns with Internet’org’s business model and how it is fundamentally destroying the free neutral Internet architecture. Countries need to unite to stop from destroying Net Neutrality in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bolivia etc.

We have been trying  to raise awareness about net neutrality since a year!
We have been trying to raise awareness about net neutrality since a year!

The key problem with – it’s NOT free Internet. It’s free Facebook on reliance sim cards.
A basic service like google search isn’t available on

It's not free Internet. It';s free Facebook if you buy a Reliance Sim Card.
It’s not free Internet. It’;s free Facebook if you buy a Reliance Sim Card.

A few weeks ago, AIB released a brilliant video speaking up against net neutrality violations in India. Watch it if you haven’t already!

This video caused an outrage amidst the Internet users in India. As the video went viral, Facebook countered this with the following message:

free fb - Copy

The funny thing is how Mark Zuckerberg defines Internet access. How can the CEO of a billion dollar company not know what’s the meaning of ‘free Internet’?

Net neutrality isn’t just at threat in India. It’s a serious threat everywhere.

Special tie up with Telenor
Special tie up with Telenor
Destroying Net Neutrality in Bangladesh
Destroying Net Neutrality in Bangladesh
Net Neutrality in Bolivia at threat
Net Neutrality in Bolivia at threat

There are multiple ways by which could alter its business model so that it doesn’t affect net neutrality in India and several other countries. However, that’s not going to happen anytime soon unless netizens around the world take a stand against net neutrality violations by

How many people are offline in India? The current state of Internet access

In a recent study conducted by Mckensy in 2014, it was stated that out of the 4.4 billion people in the world who lack Internet access, 3.4 billion non-users come from just 20 countries (Kara Sprague, James Manyika, Bertil Chappuis, Jacques Bughin, Ferry Grijpink, Lohini Moodley, Kanaka Pattabiraman, 2014).

1 billion in India are offline

India is a developing country with a population of approximately 1.3 billion or roughly 1000 times that of Estonia’s. India has 29 states and 7 union territories, with its population spread across over approximately 30 major cities, 8000 towns and more than 600,000 villages.

India has one of the lowest Internet penetration rates with only 15% of its population having access to Internet (The World Bank, 2013). This may seem like a small number in percentage but India has over 300 million Internet users – the third largest digital population in the world.

As of 2014, India had 930 million cellphone subscriptions. Only 6.4 % (or 60.19 million) of these are mobile Internet users – by way of a smartphone or a USB data dongle. (Telephone Regulatory Authority of India, 2014).

Only about 5% of India’s service exports are ICT based (The World Bank, 2013) amounting to approximately 100 billion USD. This is roughly 66 times that of Estonia’s ICT export (gross).

Strangely, the world’s highest number of non-Internet users come from the same country that produces some of the cheapest smartphones, has one of the widest network coverage by kilometer square, is the third largest ICT exporter in the world and has the second largest cellphone subscriptions in the world.

Much work is being done to address the issue of ‘affordability’ by the government of India, research institutions, corporates and non-governmental organizations. One key solution, being pushed by the private sector and government of India, to bring more people online and bridge the digital divide is provision of free or (affordable / low-cost) Internet access via Wi-Fi.

Read More on the Current State of Internet Access in India.



In less than $32 Million, the Government of Philipines will roll out free WiFi in the country! The country has a population of 100 Million.

Frustrated by expensive and low quality internet by telcom providers – the Government of Philippines has taken a project to provide Free WiFi access for all citizens of Philippines by 2016!

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. and Globe Telecom will carry on this project to empower it’s citizens.

Philipines has a history of expensive and bad Internet access. Telcos failed to provide quality and affordable services to people and this is the reason the Government is investing in a countrywide Public WiFi infrastructure.

With free WiFi in the whole country, the telecom companies in the country will be forced to bring affordable mobile data access into the country.

Why #DigitalIndia isn’t critically solving India’s Internet crisis!

It’s great to see that the Government of India has taken up the Digital India initiative. However, no political party or media organization is addressing the fact that Internet is basically unaffordable in India – a staggering 85% of the population is offline!

A few (15 minute) free WiFi zones and e-governance apps may be a part of the solution but it involves no critical problem solving approach to bring the rest of India online.

Free WiFi Zones in India. Image Source: Muft Internet Research Team
Free WiFi Zones in India. Image Source: Muft Internet Research Team

Many argue that lot of Indians are uneducated and they don’t need Internet! Agreed, but they do need Internet services like tele-medicine.

The effects of the telecom scams (#2gscam) are still being seen today. For years, the Telephone Regulatory Authority of India (#TRAI) and the Department of Telcom (#DoT) has sided with telcos in India instead of its own citizens. It’s hard to understand the democratic process behind TRAI.

Lack of clear policies by TRAI makes Internet access unaffordable for majority of Indians leaving millions offline! Companies like Vodafone India, Idea, Tata Docomo, Airtel India and Reliance Communications face little to no consequences even when they:

1. Overprice their data. (We pay more than Europeans for Internet service!)
2. Make false marketing claims. (The actual speed never matches up!)
3. Create Abnormal ‘Fair Usage Policies’ where they get to decide what’s fair for you to use!
4. Destroy #NetNeutrality by charging different fees for different pieces of data!

New age start-ups and online companies (like Flipkart, Myntra, ShopClues, Freshdesk, Amazon India,Jabong, Snapdeal, eBay India, Olacabs,, Zomato, CommonFloor,, and so on) find it extremely hard to expand their businesses because of this very issue – LACK OF QUALITY INTERNET ACCESS AT AFFORDABLE PRICES FOR INDIAN CITIZENS.

This is the single largest barrier to growth in Education, eHealth, eGovernance and eCommerce in India!

In the past we have seen that many Indian online businesses have voiced their concern to Save the Internet – net neutrality in India. However it is surprising to see that no one speaks of ‘affordability’ or ‘quality’ of Internet service in India.

It’s safe to say that the mainstream media like will never speak against the telcos. The telcos also happen to be their clients in advertising.

But, it’s up to the ones who are online in India that need to speak up against:
1. The bad practices of #telcos in India
2. The lack of a democratic framework of #TRAI.

We live in an age where ‘commodities’ don’t drive economies but ‘information’ does. With expensive and low quality Internet access in India; western countries have a greater advantage towards technology-superiority.

Expensive and low quality Internet access is the single largest invisible socio-economical problem that no one talks about!!!

In my text post I shall talk about the various initiatives around the world being taken up by various governments to bridge the digital divide.

With this post, we encourage people to write/talk/discuss the #DigitalDivide in India and how unaffordable and low quality Internet access is affecting our country.

PR: The Muft Internet Research Study is out!










Masters of Science in Human Computer Interaction



Institute of Informatics

Tallinn University, Estonia




Supervised and approved by:


Professor David Lamas

Dr. Sonia Sousa



I would like to thank the existing members of the HCID and ICTD community and their continued efforts to bridge the digital divide.  This thesis would not be possible without the involvement of all the participant volunteers and their ideas, time and efforts.

A Special Thank You to the All the Key Enablers of the Design Project

For giving me crucial economic and financial insights with regards to ISP businesses in India and helping me create a business model for Muft WiFi.

Bharti Parekh (Business Modeling Expert and Chartered Account, ICAI India)

Nagin Parekh (Business Modeling Expert and Chartered Account, ICAI India)

Aditi Parekh (Consultant, Deloitte)

Hitesh Shah (Investment Expert, PPIC)

Ritesh Shah (Financial Analyst, ex-KMPG)

Neha Rambhia (Student, Harvard Business School)

Rajesh Shah (Entrepreneur, Mumbai Masala Café)

Siddharth Bharwani (COO, Jetking Infotrain)

Rashi Dhandia (MBA, Singapore Management University)

For giving me crucial insights on governmental efforts on bridging the digital divide, understanding government laws and regulations and national cyber security concerns.

Meenakshi Lekhi (Member of Parliament for Government of India)

Vijay Tribhuvan (Assistant commissioner, Mumbai Police)

Dilip Shah (Lawyer, Dilip Shah and Associates)

Akhil Gurwada (Lawyer, Mulla & Mulla & Craigie Blunt & Caroe)

For helping me understand wireless technologies, network architectures and developing the overall technical solutions required for this project.

Vipul Patel (Engineer, 3 Spin Creative Solutions)

Yatin Tribhuvan (Interaction Designer, Colorbud Studio)

Amit Goyal (Chief Engineer, Rirev)

Audrey Boullot (International Development (student), SciencePo Paris)

Mahendra Nagle (Freelance Network Architect)

Khwaja Umair (Human Computer Interaction (student), Tallinn University)

For giving me crucial insights on existing digital advertising and ad-market insights.

Preeti Vyas (Owner, VGC Interactive Designs)

Anushree Seth (Media Selling Expert, ex-Disney India)

Harshil Karia (Co-Founder, Foxymoron Digital Agency)

For their key volunteering efforts at different stages of the project:

Małgorzata Łuczkowska

Amey Tribhuvan

Mel Batson

Student volunteers from H.R College (RCHR Club)

Management Staff at Jetking Infotrain

Technical Staff at Realtel ISP

Technical Staff at Hathway ISP


Lastly, I would I like thank my supervisors Professor David Lamas and Dr. Sonia Sousa and my colleagues at Tallinn University’s Institute of Informatics for their constant support and guided expertise throughout this project.


This thesis is dedicated to 60% of the human race whose creativity we miss out on every single day simply because they lack Internet access.


In the past couple of decades we have seen a sharp rise in Internet usage, data consumption and the overall number of Internet users. With the rise of broadband connectivity, mobile Internet, mobile applications and overall web utility through localized content and services; we have been able to observe many positive effects of Internet access. Many Human Computer Interaction and Development (HCID) and Information and Communication Technology and Development (ICTD) studies in this time have demonstrated how countries with higher Internet penetration and adoption enjoy better economic growth, improved educational systems, more democratic participation and overall enhancement in various Quality of Life (QOL) indicators.

As of 2014, the sad truth remains that over half of the human population is deprived of basic Internet access. Most of these people live in developing or poor countries. This reflects a deep gap between technology creators’ / designers’, policy makers’ and industry’s understanding/involvement of the end users. The problems lie beyond an individual’s conventional understanding like hardware availability, user literacy or network coverage.
Complex and intertwined sociotechnical roadblocks play a key role in curbing Internet penetration and adoption in many countries that face a huge digital divide. However, one common pattern can be spotted among such countries – ‘affordability’. Even with the sharp decline in prices of Internet enabled mobile devices and data plans over the past decade, quality Internet access still remains expensive or unaffordable to many.

The study was conducted in India with the goal of overcoming various legal, economic and technological barriers to ‘enable free Internet access’ for users. In this study, we try to address the problem of ‘affordability’ in Internet access for existing Internet users in India that own an Internet enabled mobile device but cannot afford to pay for mobile Internet packages. Using a Participatory Design approach and a Double Diamond design process, an economically sustainable and technologically scalable ‘free Wi-Fi Zone’ model was designed and prototyped in this study.

This research study aims to provide valuable insights to various research organizations, governmental bodies, Internet service providers, hardware/software companies and other agents working in the ICTD space and trying to bridge the digital divide.