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

14 Nov 2016

Russian fixed network operator Rostelecom has officially launched commercial mobile services under its own brand, based on an MVNO arrangement with its part-owned mobile network operating subsidiary Tele2 Russia. The new service was initially available to Rostelecom’s existing consumer and enterprise fixed telephony/broadband/IPTV customers in seven regions (oblasts) of the Urals federal district (Sverdlovsk, Kurgan, Chelyabinsk, Tyumen, Khanty-Mansiysk [Yugra], Yamalo-Nenets and Perm), while it was subsequently reported that the telco has expanded the MVNO to 16 regions in Central Russia, including the likes of Belgorod, Kursk, Lipetsk, Smolensk and Tula, as well as capital city Moscow. All calls between Rostelecom fixed and mobile numbers are free, and the operator now intends to expand the service nationally via the tie-up with Tele2.

Sticking with Russia, ComNews has reported that cableco ER-Telecom was handed a five-year MVNO concession by the regulatory authorities on 1 November this year. As per the terms of the contract, the newcomer is required to start offering commercial services no later than 1 November 2018. The licence covers 83 regions of the Russian Federation (excluding Crimea and Sevastopol) and the cableco is expected to bundle the resultant mobile service alongside its existing cable products.

Meanwhile, self-styled ‘Freemium’ MVNO Atlas has reportedly launched in Moscow, in association with SIM Telecom (SIM SIM), a subsidiary of VimpelCom (Beeline). The cities of St. Petersburg, Kazan and Yekaterinburg are said to be next in line for the service. The MVNO reportedly has access to prefixes in the ‘900’ and ‘958’ number ranges.

La Poste Mobile has expanded its MVNO agreement with SFR, covering mainland France, to launch a pre-paid mobile service in the French overseas territory of Reunion, MegaZap reports. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the company that is now La Poste Mobile launched in Q4 2004 and has been co-owned by Le Groupe La Poste (51%) and SFR (49%) since May 2011. Subsequently, La Poste Caraibes Mobile launched services in Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guiana in January 2014, over the Orange Caraibe network.

In Italy, Telecom Italia (TIM) reportedly plans to introduce a new low-cost mobile operation in early 2017 to combat the threat of competition from Iliad, which is planning to launch the country’s fourth mobile network next year. According to a report from Corriere delle Comunicazioni, TIM’s new MVNO will be entirely independent of the parent company. French firm Iliad has acquired spectrum and network assets from Wind and 3 Italia to allow it to launch in Italy; it shook up its domestic cellular market in 2012 when it introduced its low-cost Free Mobile service. TIM recently acquired 100% of the Italian mobile virtual network aggregator (MVNA) Noverca.

Japan Communications Inc (JCI), which is said to have launched the world’s first MVNO service back in January 1997, has announced the creation of a new MVNO joint venture in association with local video-on-demand (VoD) provider U-Next.

Austrian MVNO Spusu, which launched in June 2015 over the Drei network, has enabled LTE access for its some 50,000 subscribers. The upgraded service went live on Wednesday 9 November, managing director Franz Pichler informed the local media. Spusu is owned by Mass Response, an Austrian company which provides interactive mass response services for media and television companies.

Zegona Communications-owned regional Spanish cable operator Telecable has struck an MVNO deal with Telefonica Espana (Movistar) that will enable it to offer the latter’s full range of mobile technologies, including LTE data services to its subscribers, at what Zegona called ‘highly attractive terms’. The new MVNO is expected to launch during the first six months of 2017. Eamonn O’Hare, CEO and chairman of Zegona Communications, commented: ‘This innovative agreement, with its redesigned economics, gives Telecable access to the highest quality mobile network in Spain and enables us to offer our customers a market leading mobile service, including high speed 4G data.’

Elsewhere in Spain, health care-based MVNO 107082 Telecom has signed a contract with Artilium to use its ‘ARTA’ real-time authentication, authorisation and accounting (AAA) software. The vendor notes that 50 MVNOs are currently utilising the platform.

Finally, UK MVNO Gamma has launched a national roaming service called ‘Gamma MultiNet’, in association with vendor partner Tweakker. MultiNet allows its users access to multiple UK mobile network operators (MNOs), the company notes.

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