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

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20 Feb 2017

FRiENDi Jordan has announced it will suspend its operations in the Kingdom as of 7 March 2017, due to ‘continued financial losses’, which it blames on the high cost of operating in Jordan, notably the high levels of taxation and the ‘instability’ of legislation. For its part, local watchdog the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC) has played down the impact of taxation on the operator’s fate, instead blaming FRiENDi’s decision to target a narrow section of the market, namely expatriate workers. Further, the regulator has observed that FRiENDi’s rivals have benefited from economies of scale that allowed them to offer prices to end users that were lower than the MVNO’s costs to provide similar services. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, FRiENDi launched back in June 2010 over the Zain Jordan network. The virtual operator is owned by regional MVNO specialist Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa (VMMEA).

Supermarket-owned UK MVNO ASDA Mobile has renewed its wholesale agreement with BT Group-backed EE. According to the two parties, the new contract includes access to LTE services for the first time, and the 4G component of the deal should be available to end-users from this spring. According to BT, the agreement is an extension of the previous five-year contract signed between EE and ASDA in August 2014, and takes the exclusive contract up to the end of 2020. As part of the new agreement, BT will for the first time provide ASDA Mobile with an automatic debit facility, which will allow pre-paid customers to set up an alert to notify them when their credit is running low, and automatically top up their credit by their chosen amount. Gerry McQuade, CEO BT Wholesale & Ventures, commented: ‘With ASDA stores boasting a footfall of 19 million customers, we have a terrific opportunity to help ASDA Mobile to significantly grow its business and customer base.’

Alicante-based Aire Networks, which operates an MVNO service under the Ion Mobile brand, has announced that it has signed a new wholesale contract with Telefonica Espana (Movistar), which will take effect in May this year. The new deal replaces the company’s original deal with Orange Espana, which was signed around four years ago. According to an official press release, the Movistar tie-up will help Ion Mobile to deliver ‘optimal national 3G and 4G coverage’.

XIUS, an Indian telecoms solutions provider, has reportedly signed a deal to enable the launch of Toka, a new Mexican MVNO. Toka, which positions itself as an electronic payments specialist, will operate over the Movistar Mexico network. TeleGeography notes that the contract represents XIUS’s second such Mexican mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) arrangement in recent months, following its agreement with Maxcom in June 2016.

Finally, Spanish MVNO-turned-integrated communications provider Grupo MASMOVIL has confirmed that locally owned Wilmington Capital now controls 10.02% of the company’s shares. The investment group is controlled by the Dominguez family, owners of textile giant Mayoral.

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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 **