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

3 Aug 2015

US MVNO FreedomPop has raised another USD10 million in funding from two strategic investors – the pan-Asian mobile carrier Axiata and an as yet unnamed US tech investment group – it has been revealed. The company is expected to announce its partnership with FreedomPop in the next month or so, although it remains unclear as to whether it is the same anonymous investor that ploughed USD30 million into FreedomPop last month. Meanwhile, CEO Stephen Stokols has confirmed that the virtual operator and Axiata are working on a free mobile service that will launch in the next six to twelve months and run separately under a ‘disruptive brand’ that will either use the FreedomPop name, or be ‘powered by FreedomPop’, and ‘has nothing to do with current Axiata brands’.

Unified Signal, a Seattle-based MVNO software provider, has announced that it has launched a new service, called MyTime Wireless. The start-up will target ethnic communities in the larger metropolitan cities on the east coast of the US. The product bundles USD5 of international long-distance (ILD) calling into each rate plan every month. Paris Holt, Unified Signal’s CEO, commented: ‘MyTime Wireless represents the 24th MVNO Unified Signal has launched and will be distributed throughout Unified Signal’s 50,000 retail points of distribution which it acquired through its InterMar acquisition. Even if MyTime Wireless acquires only one customer per point of distribution per month, this will bring in an additional 50,000 gross activations per month. The success of a wireless MVNO brand in today’s competitive market is all about real estate and Unified Signal now has plenty of that’.

Billed as ‘Australia’s first social mobile network’, new MVNO MeU Mobile is now live. The reseller offers 98.5% 3G coverage, via the Telstra network, and sells voice call/text/data plans known as ‘Oodles’. In an interview with ITWire, Brodie Rice, MeU Mobile’s director of innovation, commented: ‘Our new mobile network aims to lead on product and differentiate on service. It is all about providing our members with the best value. Not only are we offering them oodles of minutes, texts and data but we also want to create a bespoke, innovative, socially connected platform, which will enable members to connect both socially and with MeU’s customer centric service representatives’. Investors include ASX-listed technology accelerator Yonder & Beyond, which has previously worked with the likes of Netflix, Deezer, Spotify and Beats.

According to an unverified report by Shanghai’s China Business News, the total number of MVNO subscribers in China has reached 8.2 million, of which two million are signed up to Snail Mobile, the segment’s market leader. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, the MVNO sector passed the five million mark in May this year, although growth has fallen well short of government expectations.

SAZKAmobil, the MVNO which launched over the Vodafone Czech Republic network in February 2014, has indicated that its user base currently stands at 150,000. In an interview with MobileNet.cz, Jan Schmiedhammer, director of SAZKAmobil, admitted that the virtual operator is in ‘intense discussions’ with Vodafone regarding a desired 4G launch, although a concrete launch date has not been agreed.

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