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

4 Jan 2016

Australian MVNO Amaysim has acquired fellow reseller Vaya for AUD70 million (USD51 million), it has announced. The deal will add around 140,000 subscribers to the MVNO’s existing 718,000-strong user base, and accelerates the company’s strategy of growing its customer total to one million by mid-2019. Like Amaysim, Vaya piggybacks on the Optus network, but unlike its new owner, it operates as a purely online player with no retail presence. Going forward, Amaysim plans to preserve the Vaya brand. The AUD70 million price tag comprises an equity value of AUD20 million alongside AUD50 million of liabilities to Optus, payable over two years. Julian Ogrin, chief executive of Amaysim, commented: ‘It accelerates our growth strategy … We see a big role for [consolidation] over the next couple of years, and I think the Vaya business was a great opportunity’. Amaysim confirmed that the deal is expected to be ‘materially accretive’ by fiscal 2017.

According to a series of local press reports, Peru’s Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC) has awarded Virgin Mobile Latin America (VMLA) a 20-year MVNO concession. The virtual licence was reportedly issued following a ministerial resolution published in late-December. VMLA chairman Phillip Wallace told El Comercio: ‘We will enter with pre-paid voice and data products, and focus on delivering a good service for young audiences. We are ambitious … We are by far the largest mobile virtual network operator in Latin America’. He went on to point out that the company expects to win 3% to 4% of the Peruvian market in due course.

Wi-Fi Balearas, which offers fibre-optic broadband, pay-TV and VoIP services on the Spanish islands of Ibiza and Mallorca under the Fibwi name, has launched as an MVNO, and boasts a nationwide footprint from launch, courtesy of a wholesale deal with Orange Espana. According to the telco, SIM cards can only be ordered online and will not be made available in stores.

Austrian discount supermarket Hofer, the Austrian arm of German giant Aldi Sud, has confirmed that its MVNO unit Hofer Telekom (HoT) has notched up half a million subscribers after one full year of service. The milestone was revealed to Der Standard by company official Gunter Helm, who noted: ‘The success speaks for itself. The expansion of Hofer’s brand to the mobile telecommunications [sector] was the right decision’. The virtual operator, which launched on 2 January 2015, uses the T-Mobile Austria network. In October 2015 it was revealed that the MVNO had secured 315,000 users.

In one other Austrian development, the Regulatory Authority for Telecoms and Broadcasting (Rundfunk & Telekom Regulierungs, RTR) is threatening to rescind the MVNO concession held by Lycamobile Austria unless the UK-owned provider complies with mobile number portability (MNP) rules. The dispute dates back to September 2014, with the MVNO attracting complaints for its refusal to port customer numbers. According to Der Standard, RTR chief John Gungl has imposed a 31 January 2016 deadline on Lycamobile, describing the threat as the ‘hardest instrument’ at his disposal. Lycamobile launched in November 2013, using the A1 Telekom Austria network.

Finally, international MVNO group Lebara has added 4G access to its service plans in the Netherlands, although customers need a new 4G-capable SIM card to access the service. The virtual operator offers LTE access via two distinct plans; ‘Data 1GB’ is priced at EUR15 (USD16.3) per month, while ‘Data 3GB’ costs EUR25. The MVNO’s service has been hosted has by KPN Mobile since its launch in 2004.

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