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

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7 Sep 2015

Thailand’s CAT Telecom plans to set up a 50:50 mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) joint venture with supermarket chain Tesco Lotus, The Nation reports, citing CAT’s acting chief executive officer. Colonel Sanpachai Huvanandana indicates that the service is expected to be launched in early 2016 and will utilise CAT’s 850MHz network. For its part, Tesco Lotus will develop a SIM card distribution channel, and target the country’s three million Tesco Clubcard members in the first instance. The JV will last until CAT’s 850MHz concession expires in 2025.

Chinese broadband operator Dr Peng Telecom & Media Group has launched MVNO services under the brand name Great Wall Mobile. According to Chinese technology site C114, the virtual operator has an initial number capacity of 500,000 and will utilise the ‘1705’ number range. Great Wall Mobile, which will piggyback on the China Mobile network, will initially operate in 25 provinces and 35 cities across the country. In related news, Dr Peng Telecom claims that it has secured an MVNO licence in South Korea, as it eyes regional expansion opportunities there too.

Elsewhere in China, D.Phone has reportedly inked a 4G wholesale agreement with China Mobile covering nine provinces and eleven cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Zhengzhou, Ji’nan and Shenyang. Going forward, the start-up expects to agree parallel wholesale deals with China Unicom and China Telecom, thus allowing it to offer services over the networks of all three national mobile network operators (MNOs).

Meanwhile, German cable network operator Tele Columbus has confirmed that its MVNO service launched on 1 September, utilising the networks of Telefonica Deutschland and its recently acquired E-Plus unit. The ‘TeleColumbus Mobile Flat’ subscription offers free calls to all German networks (fixed and mobile) plus 50Mbps LTE access for EUR19.99 (USD22.27) per month. Tele Columbus customers can also access mobile services via the ‘2er Kombi’ and ‘3er Kombi’ multi-play packages.

Retailer Spar Slovenija unveiled its new MVNO on 26 August, piggybacking on the Telekom Slovenije network. Customers are able to top up their account at all Spar stores and hypermarkets across Slovenia, the newcomer said.

Italian MVNO Ringo Mobile has finally launched its commercial service, more than a year since the mobile virtual network aggregator (MVNA) Noverca and International Communication Services (ICS) announced the venture. The operator, which is promoting itself as ‘Italy’s first multi-ethnic MVNO’, piggybacks on the TIM (formerly Telecom Italia) network.

An Post, the national postal service provider in the Republic of Ireland, has rebranded and relaunched its virtual operator business (formerly known as postfone) as Postmobile. Working in conjunction with MVNO solutions provider ASPIDER-NGI, Postmobile claims that it was ‘able to offer the new propositions to the market with a very short turnaround time’.

Romanian triple-play network operator Digital Cable Systems (DCS), which offers residential cable services under the AKTA banner, has confirmed to local press that it is negotiating with two MNOs on a plan to launch quad-play services under an MVNO model by the end of this year – or in early 2016. TeleGeography notes that UK-backed Lycamobile became the first virtual operator to launch in Romania in March 2015, via a Full MVNO agreement on the network of Telekom Romania Mobile Communications (formerly Cosmote Romania).

Finally, QBoCel, a Mexican MVNO that operates on the Movistar Mexico network, has selected Israel-based FTS to deploy its billing and policy control solution. FTS’s Leap Billing solution will provide QBoCel with convergent charging, billing, invoicing, policy control, and customer and partner management – supporting both pre-paid and post-paid subscribers. FTS also acts as a systems integrator for the project, providing the company with a full MVNO solution.

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