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

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16 Jan 2017

UK MVNO giant Lycamobile Group and Malaysia’s Enabling Asia Tech have reportedly approached Thai state-backed telecoms company TOT regarding possible partnership deals, as the south-east Asian country seeks to grow its virtual sector. According to The Nation, which cites TOT’s senior executive vice president for mobile, Rungsun Channarukul, Lycamobile seeks an MVNO tie-up while Enabling Asia Tech has designs on becoming TOT’s mobile virtual network aggregator (MVNA) partner of choice. The Malaysian firm is already active in Thailand via its involvement with new MVNO Buzz Me, which launched in 3Q16.

Sticking with the UK, longstanding MVNO Virgin Mobile has struck a new five-year Full MVNO agreement with its long term network host, EE now part of BT. According to Virgin Media, the new deal – which runs until 2021 – gives the company ‘increased flexibility to grow its Virgin Mobile operation faster and provide new, innovative services to its customers’. Gerry McQuade, CEO of Wholesale and Ventures, BT, commented: ‘This has proven a successful relationship for both parties for many years and, as we enter a period of further technological change in the mobile market, we are very pleased to renew and extend our 17-year-old relationship. As the largest wholesale provider of telecommunications services in Europe, BT values the economy of scale that Virgin Media brings to our network.’

Elsewhere, Japan Communications Inc (JCI) has executed a Full MVNO agreement in association with Belgium-based wholesale carrier BICS. Under the terms of the contract, JCI’s European subsidiary will develop its own Home Location Register (HLR)/Home Subscriber Server (HSS) and gateway GPRS support node (GGSN)/Packet Data Network Gateway (PGW) platforms, as well as a SIM card that will work under one contract all over the world. JCI’s Full MVNO business model is expected to be extended to the telco’s domestic market ‘in the very near future’.

In Germany, Telefonica Deutschland has confirmed that its previously disclosed plan to phase out its Simyo sub-brand is nearing completion, with all customers set to be transferred across to the company’s Blau unit as of 17 January. The move, first announced in the summer of 2016, forms part of a wider ‘repositioning’ strategy, which has been in the offing since 2014, when the German cellco acquired E-Plus – and its raft of sub-brands – from Netherlands-based KPN. Further to the Simyo transition, the company’s Base sub-brand has also been positioned as an online-only service.

Finally, Australian mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) United Networks commenced its listing on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) on 12 January. The move follows on from United’s successful initial public offering (IPO), which generated AUD7.135 million (USD5.349 million). Going forward, the MVNE hopes to expand its ‘white-labelled’ solutions on an international basis.

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