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

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1 Aug 2016

Virgin Mobile Latin America (VMLA) has announced that it has launched its fourth operation, in Peru. Virgin Mobile Peru will aim to serve the youth market ‘with pre-paid data services and a fanatical approach to customer service’. VMLA is backed by investors including Temasek Holdings, owned by the Government of Singapore, and Hermes Growth Partners co-founded by Juan Villalonga, former chairman and CEO of Telefonica. VMLA claims to be Latin America’s largest virtual operator, noting that it now serves over three million customers across the region.

Portuguese cableco Cabovisao is poised to launch an MVNO service under the ‘Nowo’ brand name, local news site Publico reports. A launch could take place as early as next month, with the cableco currently in the ‘pre-launch phase’ of its preparations. The website notes that Cabovisao was awarded an MVNO licence by the National Communications Authority (Autoridade Nacional de Comunicacoes, ANACOM) in November 2015, adding that the concession is technically shared with sister company Onitelecom.

Australia’s Macquarie Bank is poised to become a substantial shareholder in Malaysian MVNO XOX Mobile, via the issuance of up new shares. Macquarie can subscribe up to 272.817 million XOX shares (32.9% stake) without triggering a mandatory general offer requirement – a clause that has been written into the agreement. XOX says that 70% of the proceeds will be used to expand its ‘Voopee’ mobile application on a regional basis; the service allows smartphone users to gain an additional local area mobile number without the need for an additional SIM card, by collaborating with local mobile network operators. XOX intends to expand its presence to Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand in the next three years; and subsequently to the rest of the Asean region, subject to funding.

According to unconfirmed reports, Saudi’s Lebara Mobile SA is looking to launch the group’s first mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) model in the region, by dint of a tie-up with Chinese gear maker Huawei. Although Telecompaper does not cite its source, it claims that the MVNO will look to leverage *Mobily*’s telecom network in Saudi Arabia to deliver voice and data service to Saudi customers. Lebara Mobile will reportedly begin to offer MVNO services to regional players in the coming months.

Separately, the same journal notes that the deadline imposed on Russian mobile network operators MegaFon, Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), VimpelCom Russia (Beeline) and Tele2 Russia for opening up access to MVNOs wishing to use their networks has expired in more than five regions across the country. The requirement formed a tenet of the LTE licences each operator was awarded in 2012 which also stipulates that MVNOs using their networks under licence must be fully independent of the cellcos themselves and must hold their own operating concessions.

And finally, London-based Mundio Mobile which operates MVNO businesses already in the UK, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Portugal, Czech Republic and Sweden under the branding Vectone Mobile, is to launch a new ethnic MVNO in Italy by the end of 2016. Mundio Mobile has been in operation since 2007 and is also seeking further expansion, with the markets of Serbia, Cyprus and Switzerland mooted in the medium term (i.e. by end-2016). Typically, Vectone Mobile operates in all countries where it offers the service as a Full MVNO, and has apparently been assigned the prefix 3712 as its mobile network code (MNC).

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