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

15 Aug 2016

Russian national operator Rostelecom plans to start testing its new MVNO – which will be launched over the network of its 45%-owned subsidiary Tele2 Russia – by the end of August. According to ComNews testing will commence in the Urals, which has been earmarked as the first area in which the commercial network will go live. Subsequently, the MVNO will be expanded to the telco’s ‘South Macroregional Division’, which covers sea ports such as Sochi, Gelendzhik, Anapa, as well as ski resorts like Krasnaya Polyana, Dombay, Arkhyz. Rostelecom has no plans to offer the MVNO on a standalone basis and will instead sell the mobile service as part of a converged multi-play bundle. According to company data, Rostelecom currently has 3.4 million fixed line users, 1.5 million broadband customers and 200,000 pay-TV subscribers in the South Macroregional Division.

Elsewhere in Russia, Moscow City Telephone Network (MGTS) has confirmed to ComNews that its MVNO user base now totals 180,000. The fixed line telco, which offers virtual services over the network of its parent company, Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), expects to increase its user base to 600,000 by the end of 2018. As shown in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, MGTS’ virtual subscriber base has grown from 20,000 at end-2014, 70,000 in September 2015 and 120,000 at the end of that year.

In an interview with Fierce Wireless Consumer Cellular CEO and founder John Marick said that the privately held MVNO ended 2015 with roughly 2.1 million customers and revenues of USD609 million, up from 961,000 subscribers and USD263 million in revenues back in 2012. By 2018 Marick expects the company to achieve 3.25 million customers and USD1 billion in revenues.

Also in the US, Ting, the US MVNO operated by Canadian internet company Tucows, said it gained a net increase of 3,000 customers and 6,000 devices during the second quarter, bringing the company’s total customer base to 144,000 accounts and 227,000 devices. Tucows CEO Elliot Noss noted that the MVNO experienced the exodus of 1,000 former PTel Mobile customers who moved to Ting after PTel shut down in February, and then subsequently left Ting after their free service ran out, adding that the 12,000 net adds the company experienced in Q1 ‘were inflated’ by said migration. Ting had sought to scoop up PTel’s customers with the prospect of a free trial service.

Mexican MVNO Maz Tiempo has announced that it has migrated its business across to an MVNE platform built by Austrian vendor I-New – the latter company’s first contract in Latin America. Maz Tiempo, which was founded in 2014 by Moises Payan and Tito Payan, is owned by electronics manufacturer firm Zonda Telecom.

Elsewhere in Latin America, Leo Cortes, the vice president (commercial) of Comunicaciones DIME has informed TeleGeography that the company intends to launch an MVNO, in association with local mobile network operator Tigo Colombia. DIME, which is based in Bogota, is currently licensed to operate as a long-distance carrier.

A deal between Optus of Australia and Jeenee Mobile to provide wholesale mobile services to the disability and seniors’ sector has been renewed for a further five years, until 2021. Under the new contract Jeenee Mobile will continue to provide speciality mobile services through initiatives such as the ‘Make a Difference Programme’. Jenee, which operates on a social enterprise business model, has been an ‘Optus affiliate’ since 2013. In December 2015 the company’s existing management team formed Jeenee Communications and purchased Jeenee Mobile from Community Connections Australia.

Norwegian MVNO Chili Mobil generated revenues of NOK30 million (USD3.64 million) in 2015, according to local website Inside Telecom, citing an interview with CEO Lars Ryen Mill. Going forward, the company expects to increase its top-line to NOK50 million in 2016. According to its website, the MVNO presides over a user base of 83,000. The company launched over the Telenor Norge network in April 2012.

Finally, Florida-based BSS/OSS solutions provider BeQuick has announced that it has launched ‘QuickStart’, a new platform which it says can enable any MVNO to launch in less than 30 days, using a ‘true single source solution’. The platform, it says will allow virtual operators to customise their operations as they grow, without having to change their core billing system.

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TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database is now home to the telecoms industry’s fastest-growing collection of MVNO data, covering more than 80 countries and 800 virtual operators. If you would like to find out more, please email

Australia, Colombia, Mexico, Norway, Russia, United States, BeQuick, Chilimobil, Comunicaciones DIME, Consumer Cellular, I-New, Jeenee Mobile, Maz Tiempo, MGTS (part of MTS), Optus Mobile, PlatinumTel Communications (PTel), Rostelecom, Tele2 Russia, Ting Mobile