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

13 Mar 2017

Iran’s Saman Bank is set to become one of the country’s first MVNOs, when its subsidiary Kish Cell Pars launches under the SamanTel brand name. While the identity of the MVNO’s network partner has not yet been disclosed, SIM cards are expected to go on sale at the International Exhibition of Electronics, Computer and E-Commerce (ELECOMP) July 21-24 in Tehran. SamanTel, which will operate as a Full MVNO, will also offer IPTV and near field communication (NFC) payment services, the company website notes. The news of SamanTel’s pending launch follows recent reports that local ISP Shatel has also been awarded an MVNO concession. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s MVNO Monday, the Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) has reportedly granted 24 MVNO licences, after receiving 51 applications. All parties must now sign a contract with one of Iran’s incumbent mobile operators; each MNO is obliged to sign a wholesale contract with at least two would-be MVNOs. The watchdog expects the contract phase to be finalised by the end of the current Iranian year (20 March 2017).

Brazilian postal service Correios has launched its long-planned Correios Celular MVNO service, and plans to achieve a user base of eight million users nationwide within five years. The service will be operated in conjunction with local mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) Surf Telecom, which utilises the TIM Brasil network for connectivity. Correios Celular is initially available on a pre-paid basis in Sao Paulo, with Belo Horizonte and Brasilia next in line for the service. By the end of 2017, Correios plans to extend the mobile product to some 3,600 cities across the country, attracting around 500,000 users.

Singapore-based MVNO Circles.Life, which launched in May 2016 over the M1 network, is poised to launch in Indonesia and Hong Kong later this year, Rameez Ansar, co-founder and director has indicated. Mobile World Live Asia quotes the executive as saying that the MVNO is having discussions with multiple parties after receiving requests from several regional telco players to expand in their respective markets by using the Circles.Life infrastructure-light model, which involves its own cloud-based network core running on top of M1’s towers and its data pipe.

At the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona last month, NFS, the holding company in charge of Telecel Global, unveiled plans to launch an MVNO in South Africa. Malek Atrissi, director and COO of Telecel Global, commented: ‘South Africa is a competitive market, yet when viewed with our innovative and integrated approach, we believe we will take advantage of the digital transformation witnessed in the telecom industry worldwide and develop enhanced and customised services in line with the market requirements.’ The MVNO is expected to go live by year-end, and forms part of a EUR100 million (USD107 million) investment programme, which will also involve M&A activity in markets such as the Central African Republic.

Austrian MVNO Hofer Telekom (HoT), which launched in January 2015 in association with mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) Ventocom, has confirmed that its user base reached 700,000 at end-2016, up from 500,000 year-on-year. In other news, Ventocom CEO Michael Krammer confirmed that the previously rumoured HoT MVNO in Slovenia should be live in 1H17.

Over in the US, Locus Telecommunications-backed EnVie Mobile, which offers services over the Verizon Wireless network, has informed customers that service is being suspended. The MVNO cited ‘persistent underlying carrier issues’ in a note informing dealers of the move – as published by Pre-Paid Phone News. Sister MVNO H2O Wireless, which offers services over the AT&T Mobility network is unaffected by the shutdown. EnVie launched in October of 2014.

Russian long-distance/IP telecoms operator Multiregional Transit Telecom (MTT) has added to its B2B range with a fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) service provisioned via its existing MVNO infrastructure for the mobile component combined with a fixed platform implemented using virtual PBX, under its ‘MTT Business’ banner. MTT, which says it is focusing strongly on the development of Unified Communications over the next two years, has an MVNO arrangement with Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) via which it also operates the consumer Aiva Mobile service as a separate subsidiary. MTT’s national backbone/core network enables it to operate as a Full MVNO.

Finally, Telefonica Deutschland, Germany’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, has successfully completed the migration of all O2 and E-Plus subscribers onto a common customer platform. The development forms part of the ongoing integration of Telefonica’s network and brand portfolio, following its EUR8.55 billion acquisition of Dutch telecoms company KPN’s German mobile unit E-Plus in October 2014. Alongside the migration process, Telefonica has realigned its brand and tariff portfolio by transferring customers of BASE and E-Plus to its core O2 premium brand, while users of the low-cost simyo tariff range have been switched to the Blau brand.

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