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

4 Jul 2016

Spanish telecoms regulator the National Commission for Markets and Competition (Comision Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia, CNMC) has issued a public consultation proposing the deregulation of the country’s MVNO market, easing obligations placed on the country’s incumbent cellcos a decade ago by then-watchdog, the Telecommunications Market Commission (Comision del Mercado de las Telecomunicacinoes, CMT). In its documentation the regulator observes that, as it stands, only two countries in western Europe (Cyprus and Norway) apply ex ante regulation to MVNOs. The Spanish virtual sector, meanwhile, boasts effective competition from 30 MVNOs, which between them accounted for 10.34% of the overall wireless market as of April 2016.

Integrated Telecommunications Oman (TeO) has acquired local MVNO Renna Mobile, in a move that it claims will ‘spectacularly transform the telecom scenario in the Sultanate’. Khalid Zaman, board director at Integrated Telecommunications Oman added: ‘Renna Mobile has been a credible company with a strong brand image and healthy customer base and by acquiring them, we are in a better position to fulfil our goal to provide affordable, high-quality and integrated telecommunications services’. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Renna Mobile launched in May 2009 over the Omantel network and claimed a total of 358,949 subscribers at 31 March 2016.

UK-based Lycamobile Group, which currently serves more than 15 million customers worldwide, has confirmed that its previously announced Lycamobile Macedonia unit has now gone live, making the Balkan nation its 21st international market, and only its third in eastern Europe – after Poland and Romania. Lycamobile chairman Subaskaran Allirajah commented: ‘Macedonia is an emerging country situated in the heart of south-east Europe. Surrounded by some of our most thriving countries, its telecoms industry has received significant foreign investment in recent years. With this in mind, Macedonia is the next step as we continue to expand internationally.’ The MVNO’s network partner has not yet been disclosed.

Chinese MVNO Snail Mobile is looking to enter the nascent Indian MVNO sector, global executive director (mobile), Chongxian Xu, has informed the Economic Times of India. Speaking on the sidelines of the GSMA Mobile World Congress 2016 in Shanghai, the executive confirmed: ‘India is on Snail’s shortlist of key global markets it plans to enter in the near future, [alongside] the US and Africa … India has a huge addressable mobile market and Snail will not give up on any opportunities to expand its global presence’. Snail Mobile currently operates MVNO services in over 100 key cities in China, via its partner with China Unicom. Snail also sells international SIM cards in over 60 countries to cater to international Chinese tourists.

Media Markt Mobile, which is owned by Germany-based Media-Saturn Holdings, has launched a new MVNO service in Austria, using capacity on 3 Austria’s network, as previously rumoured. The electronics retailer already operates an existing MNVO brand in Austria, Ge Org, which is hosted on the A1 Telekom Austria network, TeleGeography notes.

New MVNO Virgin Mobile Peru, which is poised to launch in the third quarter of 2016, has pre-registered 75,000 subscribers to date – 25,000 more than expected. CEO Steve Logue told local media outlet Semana Economica that the company expects to sign up 500,000 customers by the end of 2019, securing a 5% share of the market in the process. SIM cards will be sold via three major, as yet unspecified, retailers, as well as through 1,000 Virgin-branded kiosks. Finally, Mr Logue told the business daily that the wholesale agreement with Movistar Peru lasts for an initial five-year term, but is not exclusive, opening the door for simultaneous partnerships with other operators.

UK-based Capita has been selected by Tesco Mobile UK to form a five-year strategic partnership for customer management services. Under the terms of the partnership Capita will seek to enhance the MVNO’s customer service propositions, using technology and service design methods. The deal is worth approximately GBP140 million (USD186 million) for an initial five-year term, and is due to commence on 1 August 2016. Andy Parker, Capita chief executive, said: ‘Capita is ideally placed to work in close partnership with Tesco Mobile to continue to enhance the customer experience through greater knowledge of customer behaviours, technology advancements and innovation.’

Finally, new Algerian ISP Comtal plans to launch MVNO services, alongside its planned DSL and WiMAX products, domestic news source reports. The Oran-based company will be majority-owned by fixed line incumbent Algerie Telecom (55%), with other shareholders including oil and gas groups Sonatrach (20%) and Sonelgaz (20%), and railway operator SNTF (5%).

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