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

15 Feb 2016

America Movil (AM)-owned TracFone ended 2015 with 25.668 million users in the US after net disconnections of 58,000 in the fourth quarter. The parent company notes that the net subscriber losses were associated with its legacy voice-only brands Net10 and TracFone, while its data-driven ‘bucket plans’ StaightTalk, SafeLink and Total Wireless all continued to show solid growth. Fourth quarter revenues of USD1.756 billion were flat compared to the year-earlier period, with ARPU steady at USD20.0.

UK-based business communications service provider Gamma has agreed a deal with Three UK to provide the primary radio access for a new MVNO it plans to launch in the first half of 2016. Gamma notes that the business-focused service will offer 4G access as standard on all tariffs, provide near real-time mediation and billing, and flexible data usage alerts. Gamma said its core mobile network, purchased in 2014, utilises Ericsson software, and is able to support emerging technologies including voice-over-Wi-Fi and VoLTE. According to Mobile News, the move brings to an end Gamma’s five-year partnership with Vodafone UK.

Spirent Communications has announced that its Tweakker mobile device intelligence unit has won a contract from Dallas-based MVNO Tag Mobile to provide cloud customer care services for the United States’ government’s Lifeline assistance programme. The contract was won through a joint initiative, set up in 2015 with Prepaid Wireless Wholesale (PWW), one of North America’s largest mobile virtual network enablers (MVNEs).

Shares in Malaysian virtual operator XOX Mobile reportedly dipped sharply in local trading after its renounceable rights issue was massively undersubscribed by 43.71% or 155.58 million shares. In a Bursa Malaysia filing, the MNVO confirmed that at the close of the offer deadline, only 200.4 million rights shares with warrants were applied for, equivalent to 56.29% of the rights shares with warrants available. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, XOX Mobile – which piggybacks on the Celcom Axiata network – claims to be Malaysia’s first publicly listed reseller.

Tucows Inc, the parent of US MVNO Ting Mobile, says the number of customers signed up to the unit’s services increased by 36% in 2015, helping the group as a while post fourth-quarter profits of USD3.1 million. Tucows says that the success of Ting Mobile means it will now look to forge ahead with a fibre-based service, Ting Internet, which has already been launched in three mid-sized Atlantic coast cities, and will now be expanded to other markets in 2016 and beyond. Ting is also reportedly pursuing former customers of PTel Mobile, which recently closed its doors after 15 years in business. Ting Mobile uses “Sprint*’s network but in late 2014 added support for a GSM network, which industry watchers agree is ‘almost surely’ that of T-Mobile US.

Finally, Telefonica Deutschland, Germany’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, has said that it is discontinuing its BASE and E-Plus sub-brands, as part of efforts to unify its brand and tariff portfolio. Customers of BASE and E-Plus will be gradually transferred to O2 over the coming months

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