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

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30 Nov 2015

Fozzy Group, one of the largest trade and industrial groups in Ukraine, has launched a mobile service under the Yezzz! brand exclusively for customers of its Silpo supermarket chain, using the 2G and 3G network of MTS Ukraine (Vodafone Ukraine). Sold only at Silpo outlets (currently numbering 263 stores in 60 cities), a Yezzz! starter SIM pack costs UAH20 (USD0.83), whilst it costs UAH60 to extend the period of tariff validity for each successive month. The monthly Yezzz! tariff includes: unlimited calls to Yezzz!, MTS Ukraine or Vodafone Ukraine 3G subscribers; unlimited mobile internet (3GB per month at 3G speed, with speeds throttled to 150kbps for the month thereafter); 120 minutes of calls to other Ukrainian mobile networks; and 300 SMS/MMS to all Ukrainian mobile networks. A press release says that the Yezzz! tariff was designed with no fixed or hidden charges, and with ease of usage in mind. Furthermore, the service is focused on the four-million-plus registered members of Silpo’s loyalty bonus programme ‘Vlasnyi Rakhunok’ with the promise of special rates, benefits and unique offers. Whilst Yezzz! is the first mobile SIM-based service from a Ukrainian retail chain, and indeed the only active mobile brand partnership of its type in Ukraine – it is not being officially categorised as an MVNO. Project manager Vitaliy Vorozhbyt told the Ukrainian Retail Association that ‘legally, the buyer [of a Yezzz! SIM card/phone number] becomes the subscriber of MTS Ukraine’, although underlining that existing MTS Ukraine subscribers cannot switch to the new tariff on their existing phone number; a new Yezzz! phone number is compulsory with the purchase of the SIM starter pack.

Australian telco Optus has announced that it has signed an exclusive five-year agreement with My Mobile Data (MMD), which will allow the newcomer to offer pre-paid virtual services over its network. MMD, through its new brand ‘OVO’, will provide its customers with unique content relating to the V8 Supercars series, providing subscribers with access to live trackside commentary, along with never seen before archive footage. Matt Jones, CEO of MMD, commented: ‘We are re-inventing the traditional telecommunications model, creating a hybrid between a subscription video on demand (SVOD) [service] and a telco, that will provide allowances for the consumption of entertainment and ‘OVO content’ for sports and entertainment fans, in addition to general data allowances for everyday use and unlimited national calls and SMS’. The new MVNO seeks to tap into the roughly 3.5 million followers of the V8 Supercars series.

Russian 4G MVNO Yota, which provides services over the network infrastructure of its parent company MegaFon, has announced reaching 1.5 million subscribers by 31 October 2015. Yota also announced extending its virtual network to Rostov, a town in Yaroslavl Oblast. SIM cards will be made available in around 230 sales networks across Rostov, which represents the 68th town/city covered by Yota. 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. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s MVNO Monday, the MVNO reached the one million subscriber mark in August this year, with around 50% of the SIM cards registered in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, and the latest figures show that its subscriber base grew by a further 50% in less than three months.

Netherlands-based corporate provider Mtel terminated its long-running VastMobiel MVNO service, Telecompaper reports, citing a company spokesperson. The virtual network, which was acquired by Mtel in 2012, was switched off on 1 November, with the company noting that it ‘did not see a future for the MVNO based on the company’s current business model’.

Finally, BroadForward, a Netherlands based software company, has announced its BFX Interface Gateway has gone in full operation to support what it claims is the world’s first private virtual network operator (PVNO). The first PVNO using this service is an as-yet-unnamed Dutch utility company, which serves millions of machine-to-machine (M2M) devices, including smart meters, gateways and remote telemetry units. With the new PVNO model, enterprises that have large amounts of SIM cards installed across the country can become operators in their own right and escape the lock-in of long term contracts with a mobile network operator. From now on they can switch to another network provider without the need to replace SIM cards.

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Australia, Netherlands, Russia, Ukraine, BroadForward, Mtel (formerly VastMobiel), Optus Mobile, OVO, Scartel (Yota), Vodafone Ukraine, Yezzz!

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