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

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16 Nov 2015

Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao has dismissed accusations that Vodafone UK is a reluctant partner in the MVNO market, though he has stressed that virtual operators need to be willing to share the cost of investment for 4G services. Speaking to Mobile Today, Mr Colao said: ‘There needs to be willingness from the guy who buys capacity to understand there are new investments and a lot of costs they’ll have to participate in. It’s a bit too easy to say I want 4G but I don’t want to pay more – that is just the way it works.’ Vodafone’s approach towards its wholesale partners came under scrutiny last month after the network operator announced that its Mobile by Sainsbury’s joint venture with the eponymous supermarket chain would cease to exist on 15 January 2016. UK ISP-turned-MVNO TalkTalk had previously suggested that Vodafone was planning to pull out of the MVNO market altogether, a claim fiercely contested by the operator itself.

Elsewhere in the UK, Clitheroe-based start-up Anywhere SIM reportedly activated its new MVNO service last week. The virtual operator aims to eliminate areas lacking coverage, or so-called ‘not-spots’, via a multi-carrier roaming agreement which encompasses the likes of EE and Vodafone UK. Interestingly, according to technology website Engadget, Anywhere SIM has achieved this by teaming up with Isle of Man-based Manx Telecom, and leveraging that company’s existing roaming agreements with a whole host of European networks, including those in the UK. In addition, Anywhere SIM has secured a separate MVNO agreement with O2 UK, which allows it to offer a UK-numbered SIM card which also works across Europe.

Meanwhile, the Slovakian Tesco Mobile unit has announced that its user base has reached 200,000, up from 150,000 a year earlier and around 100,000 two years previously. Tesco, the country’s largest reseller, launched its MVNO in December 2009 in conjunction with O2 Slovakia, and remains one of the few MVNOs to have gained any traction in the Eastern European country.

Japanese MVNO Nifty, which piggybacks on the Y!mobile network, has enlisted Texas-based real-time communications software provider GENBAND to supply its ‘fring’ white label OTT telecom solution. The product will enable Nifty to launch its new voice service, NifMo-Denwa, which the virtual operator says will allow it to deliver a comprehensive, cost-effective voice solution, including a two-way video chat capability.

Finally, Spanish broadband provider-turned-MVNO Ocean’s Network has augmented its virtual network with 4G capability, courtesy of wholesale provider Orange Espana. The telco, which has operated as an MVNO since around 2009, claims that the ‘Cheetah’-branded LTE service offers coverage to 80% of the Spanish population, including all provincial capitals.

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