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

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9 Jan 2017

Sky Mobile, the new MVNO operated by UK pay-TV operator Sky, announced that its services became available on a nationwide basis on 4 January. Pre-registrations for Sky Mobile, which began on 31 October 2016, reportedly passed 46,000, with sales for SIM-only contracts commencing in mid-December to pre-registered customers, on a service hosted on the O2 UK network. Stephen van Rooyen, Sky’s UK and Ireland chief executive, talked up the MVNO’s data rollover policy, noting: ‘We’re excited that Sky Mobile goes on nationwide sale today, which is great news for UK consumers. Right now mobile contracts are inflexible and confusing and we all know people are buying more data than they need to avoid those extra charges.’

Dutch solutions provider Artilium has acquired Belgian MVNO Ello Mobile. The virtual operator, which piggybacks on the BASE network, claims to donate 100% of its profit to social-minded and non-profit charity projects. Since its inception, Ello Mobile says it has donated more than EUR1 million to good causes. Bart Weijermars, CEO of Artilium, commented: ‘With the acquisition of Ello Mobile and its customer base, we are adding a very exciting brand to our business which is different from the big mobile brands. Our customers get a top service and contribute to charities at the same time.’

A new Serbian MVNO known as Globaltel launched on 13 December 2016 over the VIP Mobile network, local site Ekapija reported. The MVNO, which had been expected to go live back in September, uses the ‘0677’ number range. The report notes that the virtual player activated 30,000 SIM cards in its first week.

State-owned Kosovo Telecom could face bankruptcy after the London Court of International Arbitration ruled it would have to pay EUR29.6 million (USD30.8 million) to local MVNO Z Mobile for alleged breach of contract, Reuters reported late last month, citing comments by CEO Agron Mustafa. The telco will appeal the ruling and has asked for government help following the decision, which reportedly centres on the telco’s refusal to grant the MVNO 3G/4G access. The telco was also accused of failing to supply it with sufficient SIM cards to satisfy user demand.

Central African mobile group Azur, which is owned by BinTel Ltd, reportedly launched an MVNO in France on 28 December 2016, with a view to targeting the Central African diaspora. While the identity of the network host has not been divulged, the launch was enabled by French ‘white label’ solution provider Legos. Azur CEO Jean Bruno Obambi told journalists that the MVNO offering has a dual-number capability, meaning that users can have one French number and one for use in either Gabon, the Central African Republic or the Republic of Congo.

According to Russian press sources TransTeleCom (TTK), which is wholly-owned by state railway firm Russian Railways, is poised to launch an MVNO in conjunction with local mobile network operator (MNO) Tele2 Russia. The latter is also in the process of launching a virtual operator model with Moscow-based banking and financial services company Sberbank; the two companies reportedly inked a wholesale partnership in October 2016.

Finally, Pareteum (formerly Elephant Talk) has announced that it has secured an expanded Global Cloud Platform services agreement with its largest European customer, Vodafone Enabler. The new contract – an extension of its existing MVNE relationship Vodafone Enabler – will ‘allow for the creation and launch of unique MVNO service offerings backed by a Tier-1 network operator’s global roaming services operation’. These services, together with the first MVNO customer rollout, are expected to occur during the first quarter of 2017.

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Belgium, France, Kosovo, Russia, Serbia, United Kingdom, A1 Serbia (previously VIP Mobile), Artilium, Azur RCA (Centrafrique), Dardafon (Z Mobile), Ello Mobile, Equateur Telecom Congo (Azur Congo), Globaltel (Serbia), Legos (France), Pareteum, Sky UK, Tele2 Russia, Telecom Kosovo (TK, Vala), TransTeleCom (TTK), USAN Gabon (Azur), Vodafone Enabler Espana

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