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

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25 Jul 2016

The Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) of Iran has announced that it has agreed – in principle – to issue a total of 19 MVNO licences to successful applicants. While a full list of licence holders is unavailable, Tehran-based ISP HiWEB has been named as one of the new licensees, alongside domestic financial institutions Saman Bank and Parsian Bank. Local news sources have suggested that any would-be newcomers that fail to secure a wholesale deal with one of Iran’s mobile network operators (MNOs) within six months will have their concessions rescinded. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s MVNO Monday, the CRA received MVNO applications from a mixture of fixed line telcos, domestic banks and international operators, with no fewer than 32 companies from 18 different countries submitting paperwork earlier this year.

Brazilian telecoms regulator the National Telecommunications Agency (Agencia Nacional de Telecomunicacoes, Anatel) has licensed two new MVNOs: BT Brasil and Always Tecnologia. The former, an international unit of the UK’s BT Group, is an established broadband operator in Brazil, while the latter is said to be an affiliate of religious organisation Igreja da Fe (Church of Faith). According to local press reports BT Brasil will utilise Datora Mobile as a mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE), while Always Tecnologia will team up with EUTV (Surf Telecom).

Australian MVNO amaysim has announced that it has entered into a binding share purchase agreement to acquire 100% of the shares in Australian Broadband Services (AusBBS). AusBBS was launched in 2012 and has since developed a scalable platform for ADSL and NBN provisioning and subscriber management. amaysim CEO Julian Ogrin commented: ‘It is logical for amaysim to enter the broadband market in the next twelve months to take advantage of the likely customer switching behaviour that will stem from the continued NBN rollout. Acquiring AusBBS’s technology platform is a great way for us to accelerate our broadband strategy, become even more relevant in data-hungry Australian households and bring our ‘less hassles’ approach to broadband.’ The transaction remains subject to the satisfaction of customary conditions and completion is expected to occur in late August 2016.

Clitheroe-based MVNO Anywhere SIM has confirmed that it will be adding coverage from the Three UK network to its virtual footprint from next month (August). The new wholesale deal means that the MVNO will now have access to all four UK networks. In related news, Anywhere SIM has signed its first major retail distribution deal – with Argos. SIM cards will be sold in 840 Argos branches, and online. The MVNO launched in August 2015 and currently claims around 10,000 subscribers.

Galicia-based cableco-turned-MVNO R has activated 4G access for its subscribers, Xataka Movil reports. The development was reportedly made possible by the MVNO’s decision to switch from the Vodafone Spain network to a wholesale deal with Orange Espana. According to the website existing customers will be gradually migrated to the new network without changing SIM, although in ‘exceptional circumstances’ a new SIM card may be required.

Russian MVNO Allo Incognito, which launched back in 2003, has announced that all CDMA-based tariffs will be discontinued from 1 October this year, as a result of the shutdown of the SkyLink network by its current owner Tele2 Russia. Tele2 seeks to use the freed-up 450MHz frequencies for 4G use. MVNO connectivity offered via the MegaFon (since 2003) and Beeline (since 2010) networks will remain unaffected, however.

Finally, US rapper Kurtis Blow is poised to launch a new MVNO under the Hip Hop Global Mobile brand name. Kirkland, Washington-based software enabler Unified Signal is working with Blow – real name Kurt Walker – to launch the MVNO, which will be marketed along with a fully functional ‘Hip Hop Global Wallet’ money transfer service. Unified Signal CEO, Paris Holt, commented: ‘In working with Kurtis over the last few months, I realised what a sophisticated entrepreneur he is, and his plan to launch and market his own brand of wireless, mobile wallet, and music services is very exciting. Wireless and music are becoming synonymous with each other and we believe that bundling unlimited hi-definition music streaming with your wireless phone is the wave of the future. We will be investing the necessary capital in the upcoming months and allocating the necessary resources to ensure that the Hip Hop Global Mobile brand and fall launch is a complete success.’

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