Virgin territory: Lycamobile, touched (Romania's MVNO sector) for the very first time?

12 Sep 2014

Mobile network operator Cosmote Romania (soon to be rebranded Telekom Romania) has confirmed that it has formed a partnership with multinational mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Lycamobile, which will launch MVNO services over the Cosmote (Telekom) network ‘soon’, reports local news site Economica.net. Lycamobile, headquartered in the UK, already operates as an MVNO in 17 countries, and will facilitate cheap international calls to/from Romanians living and working in these countries, a Cosmote representative noted. The report added that Lycamobile received the requisite permit to launch as a communications service provider from Romanian regulator ANCOM on 3 July 2014, while as it stands the company would be the first independent MVNO to launch in the Romanian market.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that ANCOM previously revealed a list of 17 licensed companies which expressed interest in launching as MVNOs in Romania, but the development of the MVNO sector is thought to have been inhibited by the country’s already rock-bottom mobile tariffs plus existing well-established low-cost and niche user brands owned by network operators (alongside a handful of resale partnership brands). Third-placed cellco Cosmote and fourth-placed RCS&RDS (DigiMobil) both announced they were in early negotiations with ‘major companies’ in August 2013 after the pair published their terms of MVNO access as per ANCOM’s regulatory framework associated with their new operating licences (awarded in September 2012 and valid from April 2014). However, the MVNO access framework is not mandatory, and largest Romanian cellcos Orange and Vodafone have not yet followed suit in publishing their access terms under the regulator’s guidelines.

Lycamobile will offer voice and data services for both pre-paid and post-paid users in Romania as a full MVNO. The company currently operates in 17 countries worldwide (Australia, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Ireland, Poland, Switzerland, Denmark, Italy, Portugal, UK, USA, France, Norway, Spain and Austria) in which it claims ‘over 30 million users’.