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

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11 Jan 2016

Spanish MVNO Grupo MasMovil has abandoned plans to acquire a 50.01% stake in YouMobile, a reseller aimed at the Chinese community in Spain. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s MVNO Monday, the companies announced a preliminary agreement in September for MasMovil to buy a controlling stake, with a view to acquiring 100% of the unit within five years. However, MasMovil has now revealed that it was unable to reach a final agreement and is withdrawing from the deal. At the time of the initial announcement YouMobile claimed an active user base of 57,000. Previously, in February 2015 MasMovil acquired fellow MVNO Happy Movil as part of the acquisition of Xtra Telecom from UK-based Phone House Holdings.

Thailand’s newest cellco Jas4G aims to launch within two weeks, although whether this will be facilitated via the deployment of a ‘skeleton network’, or using an MVNO agreement remains unclear. The newcomer, which secured 2×10MHz of spectrum in the 895MHz-905MHz/940MHz-950MHz bands last month, has been strongly linked to an MVNO agreement with CAT Telecom. According to Telecom Asia, Jas4G is targeting two million mobile subscribers in its first year, rising to five million subscribers within three years, by leveraging the user base of its Triple T Broadband sister company.

Affirmed Networks of the United States and European mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) Transatel have announced the extension of their partnership into North America, where Transatel has now deployed the former’s ‘Mobile Content Cloud’ platform ahead of a strategic push into the US market. Transatel claims to have successfully launched more than 120 MVNOs across Europe and manages over 1.7 million SIM cards.

In related Transatel news, Microsoft is rumoured to be planning to include its own SIM card in some Windows 10 devices, thanks to a 3G/4G LTE partnership with the French MVNE. Microsoft’s first entry into the MVNO sphere is likely to happen via a pay-as-you-go Windows 10-based mobile data service – with the first version only available on laptops and tablets, and requiring a Microsoft-branded SIM card based on the Transatel SIM 901 solution. It is understood that the Microsoft SIM will allow customers to choose and buy pre-paid mobile data plans from different cellular providers in the US, ahead of a full-fledged bit to establish itself in the buoyant North American MVNO sector. Transatel currently covers 38 countries with its service, and promises to reach 50 by the end of Q1 2016. Prices and availability for Microsoft’s service are not yet available.

UK-based Spirent Communications – which describes itself as a provider of verification, assessment, analytics and device intelligence solutions – has announced its debut MVNO contract in Asia, with Malaysian virtual operator red ONE signing a contract for the firm’s mobile device intelligence unit Tweakker. The vendor has confirmed that the contract will enable red ONE to embed Tweakker ‘self-care smartphone Device Guides’ on its website with a link to Tweakker’s cloud, with the ultimate aim of minimising the time it takes when on-boarding new subscribers if they experience difficulties in getting online. Founded in 2012, red ONE built its customer base to one million in just under three years. With plans to open more retail outlets across the country, the MVNO expects to double its customer base by end-2016 through ambitious customer acquisition campaigns.

German car giant Audi has signed an agreement spanning 13 European countries with Irish MVNO and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications specialist Cubic Telecom, Computer Weekly reports. The tie-up will enable new Audi owners to buy in-car 4G LTE connectivity as well as access to regional or Europe-wide data plans as part of the German manufacturer’s ‘infotainment system’. The Audi solution is based on a ‘myAudi’ web portal that allows the user to access the World Wide Web over a vehicular Wi-Fi hotspot using automotive-grade embedded SIMs. The system will come on stream in selected 2017 vehicles later this year.

German mobile reseller helloMobil has launched a flat-rate LTE service priced at just EUR7.99 (USD8.73) per month. The MVNO’s new ‘Allnet Flat + LTE’ tariff promotion runs until 22 January and includes a data download of 500MB with a peak connection of 21.1Mbps. helloMobil is a 100% brand subsidiary of Drillisch AG Online which also owns online brands,, DeutschlandSIM, PremiumSIM, WinSIM, simply, maXXim, helloMobil, McSIM, Phonex, discoTEL, discoPLUS, disco surf, eteleon and M2M mobile.

Finally, Italy’s competition watchdog, Autorita Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM), has ordered the country’s post office to begin selling SIM cards of all mobile service providers rather than just those of its own MVNO unit, Poste Mobile. Network operator 3 Italia had complained that state-owned Poste Italiane was abusing its monopoly position in the postal sector by using its 13,000 retail outlets to market its own MVNO service while denying access to other operators. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Poste Mobile is the country’s largest MVNO, with more than 3.5 million users at the end of September 2015.

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