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

10 Aug 2015

Peru’s Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC) has published regulations on the introduction of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) in the country, as part of efforts to improve competition in the sector. Under the new rules, mobile network operators (MNOs) may not be affiliated with MVNOs and must provide the same standard of quality of service (QoS) to customers of virtual operators hosted on their networks as they provide their own subscribers. Regional heavyweight Virgin Mobile Latin America and Chilean retail group Falabella, which offers MVNO services in its domestic market, have expressed an interest in launching in Peru. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database the regulations covered under the new legislation (Law 30083) received parliamentary approval in September 2013, but were only written into statute this month.

Spanish MVNO MasMovil has reportedly extended its existing wholesale contract with Orange Espana until 2022. Local press sources quote MasMovil representatives as saying that in the wake of eight years of successful cooperation between the parties, the agreement was extended before its expiry date. The new deal gives MasMovil security for the medium-term development of its business, it noted. Meanwhile, it has been suggested that the tie-up between the two telcos may not end there; MasMovil is reportedly looking at acquiring some of the assets Orange must sell in order to complete its takeover of broadband provider Jazztel.

UPC Ireland, the cable company owned by Liberty Global, is considering branding its planned MVNO as Virgin Mobile, in line with the group’s UK operation. The story was broken by Irish radio station NewsTalk, citing unnamed sources who claimed to have knowledge of the matter. In November 2014 Liberty Global implemented ‘organisational changes’ in the UK and Ireland, which saw the Irish management team start reporting directly to their UK counterparts. The reshuffle took effect on 1 December, although it remains to be seen whether or not UPC Ireland will also be rebranded.

Following its 2014 US launch, music-themed MVNO ROK Mobile has launched in the UK over the Hutchison 3G UK (Three) network. The virtual operator offers just one SIM-only tariff on a rolling one-month contract basis. For GBP25 (USD38.9) a month, users are granted unlimited calls and texts, 4GB of 4G data and free access to 7digital’s music streaming catalogue via the ROK Mobile Android/iOS app. Available only to paying customers, the app lets users stream over 20 million tracks, build playlists and download music for offline consumption.

US MVNO Solavei, which bills itself as a ’social commerce network that provides mobile service to its members’, has confirmed the completion of its merger with ASPIDER, a Netherlands-based company that provides core mobile infrastructure and services to more than 70 mobile service providers. According to the company’s press release, Solavei has signed up 400,000 ‘mobile service members’ over the past two years. Going forward, ASPIDER plans to integrate Solavei’s social commerce platform within its own range of mobile solutions, throughout Asia, Europe, the Americas and Africa. Solavei’s innovative social commerce platform will provide a mobile-service ecosystem for ASPIDER that extends their wholesale, retail and social engagement infrastructure. Following the deal’s completion, Solavei will remain a stand-alone entity based in Seattle.

Florida-based TelCo Cuba, which offers voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) telephony services to Hispanic citizens living in the US and Cuba, has launched an MVNO in the United States in association with little-known Next Mobility. The deal reportedly includes 3G and 4G access, while the service will be available in other countries via roaming agreements.

And finally, Apple has firmly denied persistent claims that it is planning to launch MVNO. The US technology giant was reported to be testing a mobile service in the US, as well as engaging in talks with unspecified European operators, as per a report by Business Insider. However, Apple has since denied such plans, with a company spokesperson asserting: ‘We have not discussed nor do we have any plans to launch an MVNO.’

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