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

24 Aug 2015

Saudi Arabian telecoms regulator the Communications and Information Technology Commission has announced that it has postponed the deadline by which interested parties must submit MVNO applications, until 10 December 2015. The CITC did not provide a reason for its decision to move the date from its original 5 July deadline. The winner of the vacant MVNO concession will lease capacity from Zain Saudi Arabia, which remains the sole Saudi mobile network operator (MNO) without an MVNO partner. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database Virgin Mobile MEA (VMMEA), in conjunction with host provider Saudi Telecom Company (STC), and Lebara, in partnership with Mobily, received their respective authorisations in early 2014, while Zain’s would-be partner Axiom Union Mobile failed to meet the requirements for final award and its provisional licence was cancelled in April that year.

Cape Town-based SmartMobile, which specialises in providing cellular services and handsets to the emerging post-paid market in South Africa, has officially launched its MVNO through MVN-X, the mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) headed by former Virgin Mobile South Africa CEO Steve Bailey. SmartMobile, which is part of iSmart, itself part of the Digicall Group, will piggyback on the Cell C network. Although all business will initially be channelled through outbound call centres, there is potential for a retail presence at a later stage, the company notes.

Malaysian MVNO Telin Malaysia has completed its switch between host networks, IndoTelko reports. The virtual operator, which launched over the Maxis network in August 2013, has switched to a wholesale contract with U Mobile, with CEO Oki Wiranto commenting: ‘We have started selling products using the proprietary U Mobile network … We have about 21,000 existing customers who should be migrated to the new product. We hope there is no loss of customers’. Prior to its initial launch Telin Malaysia was expected to target the roughly three million Indonesian expatriates living in Malaysia, although no subscriber targets were disclosed.

The Canadian Network Operators Consortium (CNOC), which represents 37 internet service providers (ISPs), has filed an application asking the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to ‘review and vary’ its May decision relating to wholesale wireless pricing in the wireless industry, asserting that the current rules offer little in the way of regulatory support for MVNOs. CNOC president Bill Sandiford told the Globe & Mail: ‘We think the Commission erred in lumping all different types of MVNO together as one’, adding that ‘at least four or five’ CNOC members are interested in expanding their existing businesses to offer wireless services as full MVNOs.

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