According to MVNOnews.com, Bladna Mobile, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) owned by Saudi Mobile Services, has launched operations in Italy. The website reports that the new service piggybacks on Vodafone Italy’s network, citing existing links between the Italian cellco and its sister company Vodafone Egypt, which is said to wholly-own Saudi Mobile Services. Bladna will reportedly offer preferential call tariffs to Egypt, Morocco and a number of other unspecified North African nations with a strong immigrant population in Italy. Milan, Rome, Turin and Brescia are believed to be the first cities where Bladna top-up cards have been made available.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database writes that Italy’s first MVNOs were launched in mid-2007, and the reseller sector has gone from strength to strength in subsequent years, with 22 such networks in operation by H2 2011. In its 2010 annual report, telecoms watchdog Agcom reported that there were a total of 3.547 million MVNO subscriber accounts in Italy at end-December 2010, up from 2.347 million one year earlier; Poste Italiana’s increasingly popular Poste Mobile unit continues to dominate the segment, with 47.6% of all MVNO subscribers at end-2010, up from 45.9% a year before.