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

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17 Aug 2015

Russian 4G MVNO Yota, which provides services over the network infrastructure of its parent company MegaFon, has revealed that its user base has passed the one million mark. Company spokeswoman Lina Udovenko told ComNews that this figure refers to SIM cards only, and excludes USB modems and routers that are connected to the network. Further, around 50% of the SIM cards are registered in Moscow and Saint Petersburg she said, with the remainder spread across Yota’s 52-city footprint. Following its August 2014 re-launch as an MVNO, Yota’s management team declared that the company is targeting ten million customers within five years.

Elsewhere in Russia, Aiva Mobile, owned by Russian long-distance operator Multiregional Transit Telecom (MTT), has reportedly initiated 3G connectivity in Moscow and the surrounding region. According to ComNews, the development represents a new facet of the MVNO’s existing wholesale deal with Mobile TeleSystems (MTS). In April this year Aiva Mobile, which operates in both Russia and Tajikistan, revealed that it had suspended its expansion plans, with SIM cards restricted to Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Planned commercial launches in 13 additional cities were postponed until 2016. Going forward, the company expects to reach its original 100,000 subscriber target by end-2015. The brand, which is aimed at ethnic communities of the former Soviet Union, primarily in Central Asia, could yet be expanded to Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, as previously planned. Meanwhile, an additional Aiva-branded MVNO has also been envisioned for Finland, albeit using a different business model.

Meanwhile, over in the US, Voyager Mobile has announced that it will stop providing services on 9 September. In confirming the shutdown of its MVNO business, the company has noted that it was unable to keep up with the increasing price competition in the market. Voyager started marketing its low-cost plans in May 2012, using the Sprint Corp network.

On a more positive note, Sprint MVNO TextNow is expanding its distribution by partnering with Fry’s Electronics and accepting cash payments for its service at more than 10,000 locations nationwide. According to Fierce Wireless, TextNow, which operates a Wi-Fi-first service, hopes to make it easier for credit-challenged customers to pay their monthly bills by accepting cash payments across the country. Further, TextNow is also ‘deemphasising’ the Touch Mobile pre-paid brand, which it launched in September 2014, according to the report.

Finally, ASPIDER-NGI has announced that it has secured mezzanine funding from Dutch insurance firm Delta Lloyd to support continued growth and acquisitions. ASPIDER-NGI said that it is initially leveraging the funding to complete its previously announced acquisition of Solavei, a self-styled ‘social commerce network’ offering MVNO services in the US.

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