The move enables the firms, including e-commerce retail giants Gome and Suning, to partner and compete with backbone operators through the resale of mobile services, further opening the largely monopolized sector.
The certified firms have to improve their pricing and customer services before starting resales, said Zhang Feng, chief engineer of MIIT.
To gain the licenses, private firms must sign a cooperation agreement with one of the three backbone operators -- China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom, before filing an application with the MIIT.
The ministry granted the first batch of licenses to 11 private firms in late December last year. As the pilot scheme moves on, it will grant more licenses to qualified private businesses. Applications will close in July.
The pilot scheme focuses on protecting consumers' rights and raises detailed requirements for applicants in their payment and exit policy, and their ability of offer long-term high-quality services, Zhang added.
"This will help competition and innovation while offering more choices and better service to consumers," Zhang said.
The MIIT in early December issued 4G licenses to the three backbone operators, a new era in China's high-speed mobile network.