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

New call-to-action

23 Jan 2017

China’s 37 MVNOs more than doubled their subscriber base during 2016 to 43 million, equivalent to around 3% of the country’s total mobile user base. According to local website, Snail Mobile, the country’s largest MVNO, accounts for more than eight million subscribers, while seven unnamed players each claim more than two million mobile connections each, and a further eleven MVNOs have seen their respective user bases pass the one million subscriber mark. Further down the pecking order, 18 virtual operators are said to have more than 500,000 subscribers apiece. TeleGeography notes that Snail Mobile, which launched in June 2014 over the China Unicom network, currently operates in more than 100 cities, targeting computer gamers.

Sticking with Asia, Hong Kong-based CMMobile was forced to suspend its services on 17 January after failing to pay its wholesale fees to network host Hong Kong Telecom (HKT). The Standard quotes a HKT officials as saying: ‘Our decision to terminate mobile service to CMMobile is due to its long outstanding payments and made only after having extended the payments deadline several times.’ According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the MVNO launched back in April 2002, and has been owned by VelaTel Global Communications since November 2012. The MVNO’s user base stood at around 100,000 at the time of the takeover, dwindling to just 60,000 users at the time of its shutdown.

Another MVNO to bite the dust this month is Oman’s Samatel, which formally announced the termination of its MVNO service on 14 January. A representative of Samatel’s owner, Integrated Telecoms Oman (TeO), told the Times of Oman: ‘Samatel will bear the cost of porting the number to the requested operator for all requests received before 15 February 2017, along with a refund of any previous balance on the SIM.’ First launched in August 2010 over the Ooredoo Oman network, Samatel was transferred to TeO’s ownership in 2014, although its user base has remained small.

Virgin Mobile Polska has confirmed that its user base reached 412,000 at the end of 2016, buoyed by strong mobile number portability (MNP) gains. According to local website Telix, citing comments by CEO Grazyna Piotrowska-Oliwa, the MVNO claimed net MNP additions of 52,771 in 2016 – the second highest figure in the market. Going forward, the company is targeting one million subscribers by end-2018. Revenue for full year 2016 reached PLN80 million (USD19.6 million), double the PLN40 million recorded in 2015, the report adds.

Correios, the Brazilian postal service, has confirmed that it is on track to launch commercial MVNO services in February 2017, under the Correios Celular brand name. The company, which has harboured ambitions to enter the MVNO sector since 2011, is confident that it can attract one million users by year-end. Previously, in May 2016 Correios announced that it had selected EUTV (Surf Telecom) as its network partner, ahead of its planned launch. Surf Telecom, which is better known as a mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE), claims to be in possession of 4G-suitable frequencies covering Sao Paulo, but it remains unclear as to how it intends to offer coverage of the rest of the country.

Finally, Tata Communications Netherlands has acquired a 35% stake in Dutch MVNE Teleena, thus becoming the company’s largest shareholder. The purchase price for the stake has not been disclosed. Founded in 2007, Teleena claims that over one million devices are currently being served by its MVNx service delivery platform.

We welcome your feedback about MVNO Monday. If you have any questions, topic suggestions, or corrections, please email

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database is now home to the telecoms industry’s fastest-growing collection of MVNO data, covering more than 90 countries and 850 virtual operators. If you would like to find out more, please email