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

8 Jun 2015

UK-based Lycamobile Group, which sells pay-as-you-go SIM cards in 17 countries, is considering a Cameroonian launch and to that end has secured approval from the Agence de Regulation des Telecommunications (ART) to offer resale services via a wholesale agreement with Orange Cameroon. Local press reports quote ART director general Jean-Louis Beh Mengue as saying that the group’s local subsidiary Lyca Mobile Cameroon Sarl has been issued with a concession to offer voice telephony resale services as well as for the provision of internet, including value added services (VAS).

Elsewhere in Africa, the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) has reportedly issued an MVNO licence to Mkulima Telecommunications Company (MTC), a company which will trade under the AMOTEL brand name. TCRA director general Professor John Nkoma commented: ‘The licence we are giving is open ended and embraces new innovations and developments in the ICT sector.’ The executive has claimed that the newcomer will chiefly serve rural areas.

Meanwhile, in eastern Europe, Polish tabloid newspaper Fakt is set to launch a new MVNO later this month using the network of P4 (Play). The new resale operation is designed to improve customer loyalty, with RPKom reporting that the Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday editions of the paper will include offers for Fakt Mobile subscribers to receive free calls, texts and data usage.

In other Polish news, Telgam – which provides internet access, television, telephony and IT solutions mainly in the in the western province of Podkarpacie – is launching a reseller service, Tel Mobile via a network leasing deal with domestic mobile network operators (MNOs) P4 and Polkomtel. Reports from Rpkom.pl say that the newcomer will source equipment from the new service from TelForceOne with Metroport and Telestrada also providing support to the start-up, including MVNE services from the latter.

New Austrian MVNO Spusu will launch on 15 June over the Drei network, using the ‘0670’ dialling code, Der Standard reports. Spusu, has been devised by Mass Response, an Austrian company which provides interactive mass response services for media and television companies.

Correios, the Brazilian postal service, has postponed its long-gestating MVNO plans until the first quarter of 2016, TeleTime reports. Last year, Correios broke off its partnership with Italian counterpart Poste Italiane, and is now pressing ahead with a simplified business model. As things stand, an MVNO pilot project could be introduced later this year.

Czech-owned FAYN Telecommunications, which launched virtual reseller services via Vodafone CR in August 2013, has acquired the roughly 1,000-strong subscriber base of City Mobile who are already being migrated over to its business, it says, without any disruptions to their existing service. The CEO of City Mobile, Martin Lukac, admitted that consolidation is inevitable in a domestic MVNO segment that already numbers 20 or so active resellers, noting: ‘The conditions of the telecommunications market are so uneven that we decided to nip [out] this area of our business. I am convinced that we have found the best solution for our customers, who can switch to strong and stable players, without downtime or a reduction in services’. In a press release, FAYN said that a smooth migration would be facilitated by the fact that both it and City Mobile use the same MVNEQuadruple.

Netherlands-based MVNO Mobile Vikings has announced that it will be shut down its service on 1 December this year. All SIM cards will be deactivated on that date, and unused credit will expire. No reason has been given for the company’s decision, but local telecoms news outlet Telecompaper has claimed that Mobile Vikings presides over a user base of just 4,500. The virtual operator launched in the Netherlands in December 2012, and also has a presence in Belgium and Poland, although these operations are believed to be unaffected by the decision.

US cableco Charter Communications will be well-placed to introduce a hybrid Wi-Fi calling/MVNO service following its takeover of larger rival Time Warner Cable (TWC), Liberty Media chairman John Malone has told shareholders. TWC was among a consortium of major cablecos that sold wireless spectrum to Verizon in 2012 for USD3.9 billion. As part of that agreement, TWC, Comcast, Cox Communications and Bright House Networks have the option to enter into an agreement with MNO Verizon. Fierce Cable quotes Malone as saying: ‘[The merger will] wake up a sleepy cable company that was treading water and pleasing shareholders with buybacks … The concept that Comcast, a greatly enlarged Charter and Cox could together offer a Wi-Fi-optimised connectivity service with a default to a Verizon MVNO is interesting’.

Finally, Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica, operating in Ecuador under the Movistar brand, has launched its Tuenti Movil sub-brand in the country, the fifth market for Tuenti following previous launches in Spain, Mexico, Argentina and Peru. Tuenti functions as an MVNO, with its own number prefix, SIM cards, service packages/value added services, website and sales channels, although it is owned by its MNO host. A launch event was held in Puerto Santa Ana, Guayaquil on 29 May.

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