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

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8 Aug 2016

Virgin Mobile Argentina has been formally granted a telecommunications licence by the National Entity for Communications (Ente Nacional de Comunicaciones, ENACOM), the government has confirmed. The development, which has been rumoured for some time, was rubberstamped by the authorities on 2 August, and included in the Boletin Oficial, as Resolution 6033/2016. The concession in question is a ‘Licencia Unica Argentina Digital’, which technically allows the company to offer any type of telecoms service, although a separate article of the resolution notes that the company has been registered as an MVNO. Going forward, Virgin has 180 days to comply with the government’s regulations and submit the necessary paperwork. The licence award looks set to make Argentina Virgin’s fifth market in the Latin American region, after Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Peru. No wholesale partner has yet been confirmed, although a tie-up with Movistar is anticipated, mirroring the arrangement elsewhere in Latin America.

Veridian Systems, which claims to be Romania’s first mobile virtual network aggregator (MVNA), has announced that it has the completed the integration of its platform with the Telekom Romania Mobile Communications network, and is now in a position to support commercial MVNOs. Marian Velicu, CEO of Veridian Systems, commented: ‘We [hope] that the commercial launch of our platform will trigger the convergence between mobile and other industries. Thus, the Romanian mobile market is entering into a new stage of evolution and development.’

Japan’s NTT Communications Corporation has unveiled a partnership with international ICT firm Dimension Data to deliver the first mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) platform in Hong Kong, providing MVNOs with the infrastructure needed to deliver 3G and 4G services in the city. According to a company press release, Dimension Data has proposed the use of Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) architecture to ensure NTT’s platform in Hong Kong is scalable and will benefit from flexible licensing. This should allow NTT to provide quick go-to-market for its customers, enabling them to rapidly roll out new mobile services and plans.

Elsewhere in Hong Kong, Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN) says it is looking to sign up 150,000 users in twelve months following the launch of its new MVNO service, and could take roughly 2% of the local mobile market. According to the South China Morning Post, the firm plans to target its existing broadband internet subscriber base with packages of internet and mobile services when it launches in mid-September. HKBN, which has wholesale deals in place with mobile network operators SmarTone and China Mobile Hong Kong, currently serves around 815,000 fixed internet customers.

According to an unconfirmed report by Telecompaper, Dutch cableco Delta is poised to launch a new MVNO service, utilising the T-Mobile Netherlands network. The operator, which is backed by the Dutch utility group of the same name, terminated its previous, KPN-supported MVNO on 1 May 2016.

Elsewhere in Europe, Germany’s Funke Mediengruppe has informed subscribers that it plans to discontinue its Wir Mobil MVNO, reports. The virtual operator, which has piggybacked on the Telefonica Deutschland network since October 2009, intends to shutter its service by 7 October 2016.

In the second quarter of 2016 US MVNO giant Tracfone added 110,000 net new customers to its user base, to take its subscriber total to 25.321 million. Parent company America Movil (AM) notes that June 2016 was its strongest month in the past two years. Revenue for 2Q16 reached USD1.775 billion, up 5% year-on-year.

Russian 4G MVNO Yota, which provides services over the network infrastructure of its parent company MegaFon, has extended its services to Sakhalin, a large Russian island in the North Pacific Ocean. The deployment means that Yota now offers connectivity in 76 regions. 4G coverage is now available in the following districts of Sakhalin Oblast: Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Dolinsk, Korsakov, Poronaisk, Nevelsk and Kholmsk.

Finally, according to local press reports Italian ISP Fastweb is interested in securing a takeover for Poste Mobile, the country’s largest MVNO by subscribers. The idea is reportedly being vaunted as a ‘Plan B’ since Fastweb’s bid to acquire surplus infrastructure and spectrum freed up by the proposed merger between 3 Italia and Wind Telecomunicazioni has fallen out of favour. French telco Iliad is said to be in pole position for the 3/Wind assets.

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