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

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20 Jul 2015

Israeli mobile firm Cellcom has agreed to acquire MVNO Home Cellular, local publication Globes reports, noting that the deal closed earlier this month and has been passed to the Ministry of Communications (MoC) for approval. The value of the deal is believed to be in the region of ILS3 million (USD792,000), meaning that Cellcom was not required to notify the stock exchange. Home Cellular has about 20,000 subscribers. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s MVNO Monday, earlier this month Cellcom’s fellow mobile network operator (MNO) Pelephone acquired cash-strapped MVNO YouPhone. The latest takeover means that Rami Levy Communications is Israel’s last remaining MVNO. Rami Levy operates on the Pelephone network, and distributes its SIM cards via the Rami Levy Hashikma Marketing supermarket chain.

Hutchison Whampoa-backed Hutchison Drei Austria has acquired local MVNO eety from an unidentified Austrian consortium, Reuters reports. Hutch reportedly intends to use the budget operator as a platform upon which it will target the low-cost user segment. eety, which is understood to piggyback on the Drei network, currently has around 60,000 subscribers. The MVNO offers 1,000 minutes of voice calls, 500 texts and 3GB of data for a monthly fee of EUR9.90 (USD10.80).

Czech MVNO, which piggybacks on the T-Mobile Czech Republic network, has 225,000 active SIM cards connected to its network, marketing manager Michal Markos has informed during an interview. The MVNO launched in May 2013 and currently stands as the country’s third largest virtual operator by subscribers behind BLESKmobil (400,000) and Tesco Mobile (300,000).

Taza Mobile, which operates MVNOs in Belgium, Greece and Italy, has enlisted United Telecom, a subsidiary of telecoms solution provider to provide operational support in Belgium. Artilium will provide a turn-key solution that enables the virtual operator to run its own brand, thereby reducing costs and allowing time savings. Taza is owned by the Burraq Group which has operations in telecom, retail, travel, and several other sectors. Burraq operates in Greece, Pakistan, India, Dubai, Cyprus, Romania and Italy.

Tracfone, the America Movil (AM)-backed US MVNO has reported that its user base reached 25.713 million as at 30 June 2015, up 0.8% on an annualised basis. Meanwhile, Tracfone’s second quarter revenues dropped 1.2% year-on-year to USD1.691 billion as a result of a 19.8% decline in equipment revenues. In a discussion of the unit’s results, AM noted that its Lifeline product ‘Safelink’ (a government benefit programme that provides discounts on monthly telephone service for eligible low-income subscribers), showed solid growth in the quarter while its new brand, ‘Total Wireless’, appears to be ‘gaining more traction’.

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