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

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24 Oct 2016

Linz-based cableco LIWEST has become the latest company to enter the Austrian MVNO sector, it has announced, with the launch of LIWEST Mobil. The virtual network, which has been activated in conjunction with mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) Ventocom, piggybacks on the T-Mobile Austria network and offers 4G LTE connectivity from launch.

Norwegian cableco Get, which is backed by TDC of Denmark, has entered the local mobile market via an MVNO agreement with Telia. Gunnar Evensen, CEO of Get, commented: ‘Top of the mobile wish list is larger data packages, value for money and coverage. We have therefore developed the new mobile products to match those desires. With today’s launch of mobile it’s now even more advantageous to be a Get customer’. The MVNO will reportedly offer 4G access from launch.

Lycamobile Group says it has added 4G data access services across its Australian network, via the expansion of the company’s existing partnership with Telstra Wholesale. The new deal means that Lycamobile’s expanded service will provide a 4G coverage footprint of 95% of the Australian population and a combined 4G and 3G coverage footprint of 98.8%, covering a total of 1.59 million square kilometres. Lycamobile launched in Australia in November 2010, originally utilising Telstra’s 2G network.

Another MVNO adding 4G access to its existing offering is Tesco Mobile Slovakia, which offers services via a hosting deal with O2 Slovakia. The MVNO, which launched in December 2009, notes that all brand new SIM card holders have been able to access 4G from 18 October, while the notification process for older users will commence on 15 November. Free LTE SIM cards are available instore for legacy customers, the operator notes.

Russian social network VKontakte, which is owned by domestic internet giant Mail.ru Group, intends to launch its own MVNO, dubbed VKmobile, over the MegaFon network before the end of 2016, Izvestia has reported, quoting a source close to VK’s management. The VKmobile.me domain has reportedly been registered for the project, with the newcomer apparently looking to utilise a so-called ‘Freemium’ model for the launch.

UK pay-TV and broadband provider Sky will open pre-registration for its long-awaited MVNO on 31 October, it has been revealed. Announcing its quarterly results earlier this month, group CEO Jeremy Darroch said the launch was imminent and suggested ‘Sky Mobile’ would be the commercial name for the service. He also said initial network tests had been successful, observing that key technical milestones such as core network construction, roaming agreements, SIM management and number range had all been completed and confirmed supply and distributor agreements for handsets (including Apple and Samsung devices) and customer support were all in place. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s MVNO Monday, the MVNO will piggyback on the O2 UK network.

Greece’s Forthnet is preparing to offer a quad-play product suite, local news site Kathimerini reports. According to unnamed sources, having restructured its debt, the telco is now considering adding mobile telephony to its existing ‘Nova3Play’ triple-play package. Panos Papadopoulos, Forthnet’s CEO, said: ‘The completion of the refinancing of loan obligations on very favourable terms was particularly positive, preserving the strategic value of the company.’ The identity of a desired wholesale partner has not yet been divulged.

Finally, Rome-based Acotel Group has entered into a preliminary agreement with Telecom Italia (TIM) for the sale of its 100% interest in domestic mobile virtual network aggregator (MVNA) Noverca. The transaction has a total enterprise value of EUR4.5 million (USD4.9 million), although EUR450,000 will be withheld for a period of 27 months in an escrow account, as a guarantee of the seller’s commitments.

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Australia, Austria, Greece, Italy, Norway, Russia, Slovakia, United Kingdom, Acotel, Forthnet (Nova), Get, LIWEST, LTK Telekom (LIWEST Mobil), Lycamobile Australia, Noverca, Sky, Telecom Italia (TIM), Telia Norge, Telstra (incl. Belong), Tesco Mobile Slovakia, Ventocom, VKmobile