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MVNO Monday: a guide to the week's virtual operator developments

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5 Jan 2015

Peru could potentially see the arrival of three new mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) in 2015, with regional MVNO heavyweight Virgin Mobile Latin America (VMLA), US telco AT&T and Chilean retail group Falabella all having expressed an interested in the entering the market. La Republica quoted deputy communications minister Raul Perez Reyes as saying that all three have confirmed their interest in launching services. Under the terms set out by September 2013’s Law 30083, the trio will need to negotiate terms with one or more of the nation’s mobile network operators (MNOs), a process which under new legislation, may take no more than two months. If that time limit is exceeded, sector regulator Osiptel will intervene to determine the price the MVNO must pay for access to the telco’s network. As such, the official expects the three newcomers to finalise their agreements in Q1 2015, and to be operational early in H2 2015.

In the twelve months since MVNO licences were first distributed by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), a total of 42 private enterprises have been granted Virtual Network Operator (VNO) concessions by the regulator. The first eleven were granted on 26 December 2013, with further licences awarded on an ad hoc basis throughout 2014. The licences are part of a two-year trial, due to close at the end of 2015, to assess the potential impact of MVNOs on improving competition in the nation’s wireless sector. Responses have so far been mixed, with many MVNOs complaining that MNOs are setting wholesale rates too high, in some cases charging more to MVNOs than to their own customers. MVNOs which fail to reach the MIIT’s standards will be forced to exit the market at the end of the two-year term.

Mobile LTE, a Thai telecoms start-up founded in October 2014 and headed by former Advanced Info Service (AIS) executive Yanyong Akrajindanon, has proposed to form a partnership with state-backed telco TOT, which would allow it to offer 2100MHz 3G services as an MVNO. According to The Nation, if selected as TOT’s strategic partner, Mobile LTE is prepared to work in conjunction with AIS, and invest in a 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network for TOT. Further, Mobile LTE has reportedly guaranteed that TOT will earn THB2.5 billion (USD75.7 million) in revenue from any MVNO tie-up. It is understood that Mobile LTE is seeking a 25% stake in TOT under the terms of its investment. Four other companies have reportedly registered their interest in a strategic partnership with TOT, the online journal notes, namely AIS, True Corp, Samart i-Mobile and Loxley.

Mobile value added services (VAS) provider Mariposa is preparing to launch an MVNO targeting US Hispanics, CEO David Fondots told BNamericas. Mariposa expects to open its own branded stores in major US cities as it seeks to compete with the likes of America Movil’s Tracfone unit and Sprint-backed MVNO-turned-sub-brand Virgin Mobile USA. With reference to Univision, the only notable MVNO that specifically targets US Hispanics, Fondots commented: ‘They’re doing a good job, but the guys responsible for media are not allocating enough time to advertising. They’re not leveraging their strengths. Their plans are too complex. We will go with one offer: a his and a hers phone, and simple plans.’

Colombian MVNO Uff! Movil has reached 420,000 mobile telephony subscribers, La Republica reports, citing the firm’s president Santiago Aldana. Uff! Movil, which is co-controlled by local bank Bancolombia, provides mobile services over mobile operator Tigo’s network infrastructure. Uff! competes with the likes of Virgin Mobile Colombia, Exito and Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Bogota (ETB) in Colombia’s fast-growing MVNO sector.

Lebara Mobile will cease to operate as an MVNO in the Polish market on 31 March 2015, according to Lebara, which has been operational for less than a year, piggybacks on the network of Polkomtel.

Cisco has announced that ASPIDER, a mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) for consumer and M2M mobile services, has selected Cisco’s virtualised Packet Core (vPC) to support future growth. ASPIDER aims to extend mobile services with faster time to market and lower cost of entry to mobile network operator (MNO), mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) and MVNE customers across the world. Cisco collaborated with Telindus, part of the Belgacom Group, to implement these solutions for ASPIDER. Over the last twelve years ASPIDER claims to have launched and managed more than 70 MVNOs.

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