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

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23 Feb 2015

T-Mobile US CEO John Legere has suggested that his company has technically leapfrogged larger rival Sprint Corp, because the latter continues to count long-inactive mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) customers, six months after they cease generating revenue. Citing a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Legere noted that, as of 31 December 2014, Sprint claimed as many as 1.738 million inactive MVNO accounts. For its part, Sprint insists that it has used this accounting method for years, and has a policy to not remove a customer from its records until its MVNO partner officially notifies the company.

Elsewhere in the US, TracFone Wireless, which is 98.2% owned by America Movil (AM), has launched a new pre-paid sister brand called Total Wireless. The new offshoot will piggyback exclusively on Verizon Wireless’ networks, and specialise in multi-device data sharing plans. From launch, Total Wireless SIM cards and handsets will be available through select Walmart locations.

Megacable of Mexico has reportedly entered into dialogue with AM-backed Telcel regarding wholesale MVNO terms, as it plots a return to the MVNO sector. The Guadalajara-based firm became one of Mexico’s first virtual operators back in October 2011, when it launched over Movistar’s network, but struggled to gain traction in the market. According to director general Enrique Yamuni, Megacable expects to relaunch its MVNO venture in 2016, with a quadruple-play product also on the cards.

Virgin Mobile Latin America is teaming up with cloud-based predictive analytics company Razorsight to gain ‘data-driven insights into key operations and customer sentiment metrics’ across its expanding user base. The multi-year agreement will support Virgin’s operations in Chile, Colombia and Mexico, and is expected to allow the MVNO group to deliver a more personalised customer experience.

Spusu, the new MVNO devised by Mass Response, an Austrian company which provides interactive mass response services for media and television companies, is expected to unveil a launch date for the reseller. The MVNO will piggyback on Drei’s network, and utilise the 0670 number prefix. According to Der Standard, UPC Austria has notched up around 50,000 MVNO users since its launch in December 2014.

Czech Republic-based MVNO SAZKAmobil has revealed that it passed the 150,000 user milestone, one year after launching in February last year. Meanwhile, fellow virtual operator OpenCall has indicated that it is fast approaching the 50,000 customer mark. When it reaches 50,000 customers, the operator has pledged to lower the price of calls to a number of neighbouring countries. Further, the 50,000th customer will get 50,000 minutes of complimentary calls to the numbers in the Czech Republic, as well as to networks in Poland, Slovakia, Austria and Germany.

VoIP.co.uk, which acquired Danish unified communications provider Firstcom last July, has revealed plans to launch a B2B MVNO in the UK under the Firstcom brand. Company chairman Jean-Pierre Vandromme, told Mobile News that the virtual unit is currently in alpha testing.

Omani telecoms operator Sama Telecommunications (Samatel) has been renamed as Integrated Telecommunications Oman (TeO) and plans to relaunch its MVNO service later this year. The company originally launched MVNO services for residential and business users in August 2010 over the Ooredoo Oman network, and went on to secure Oman’s third national Class I telecoms licence in February 2011, enabling it to provide general international telecoms services for 15 years. However, after achieving limited success in the MVNO market, the 100% Omani-owned firm is now unveiling a new corporate identity.

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