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

12 Sep 2016

UK-based telecoms giant Vodafone Group has been formally authorised to provide MVNO services in Chile. As published in the country’s official gazette on 29 August, the Department of Telecommunications (Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones, Subtel) has issued Vodafone Enterprise Chile with a 30-year operating licence. The document (Extract 16-SP86686) states that the company must launch on a commercial basis within 24 months of receiving its concession. Vodafone is expected to follow the blueprint it currently uses in Brazil, where Vodafone Brasil offers mobile connectivity to corporate clients, and has a big presence in the machine-to-machine (M2M) sector.

Russian bank Sberbank is negotiating the launch of a new MVNO service with domestic mobile operators Tele2 Russia and Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), reports, citing market sources. The bank has decided to intensify its own virtual reseller preparations, after talks regarding the acquisition of the MegaFon-backed LTE MVNO Yota failed, the website claims. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s MVNO Monday, the financial institution hinted at its virtual network plans in July this year when it formed a subsidiary named SB-Telecom.

Also in Russia, Moscow-based MGTS is offering free MVNO connectivity to any customers connected to its fixed broadband service. The operator expects that the new offer will help grow the number of subscribers taking both fixed and mobile services, to 600,000-700,000 by 2018.

In Spain, Galicia-based cableco-turned-MVNO R has confirmed that its long-awaited introduction of 4G services will commence this month. The development, which has been made possible by the MVNO’s decision to switch from the network of host operator Vodafone Spain to a wholesale deal with Orange Espana, has been rumoured since February this year. R claims that LTE services will be available in 242 municipalities in Galicia, or 93% of the region’s population

Tokyo-headquartered messaging app provider LINE Corp has announced the upcoming launch of an affordable smartphone MVNO service in Japan, with prices starting from JPY500 (USD4.8) per month. The service will be available from October, but initially open ‘to a limited number of subscribers’, and will use the infrastructure of host network operator NTT DOCOMO.

Czech MVNO SAZKAmobil has announced that it has signed up a total of 200,000 customers, up from 150,000 in June 2015. The operator started providing services in the Czech Republic on 18 February 2014.

Finally, Virgin Media, which offers UK MVNO services via Virgin Mobile, has entered into an agreement to acquire Arqiva Wi-Fi, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Arqiva Group. On completion, Arqiva Wi-Fi, which includes more than 31,000 Wi-Fi access points across 6,500 locations in the UK and more than 100 employees, will become part of Virgin Media Business. In other news, Virgin Media also revealed that Virgin Mobile will begin offering LTE services from October. More details will be shared at a later date, a company spokesman said.

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