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

22 May 2017

The long-planned MVNO joint venture (JV) between Mexican telco Maxcom and supermarket chain Soriana – which will operate over the Telcel network – is finally poised for launch. According to, Soriana Movil will initially be sold via two Soriana branches (Mixcoac in Mexico City and Solidaridad in Monterrey) before being made available at all 827 retail stores that fall under the company’s umbrella. The report notes that the MVNO will be tied to the supermarket’s loyalty card scheme, and the partners expect to achieve between 700,000 and one million active users within the first five years of operation. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s MVNO Monday, Maxcom awarded a mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) contract to XIUS, an operating brand of India-based Megasoft, in June 2016.

Also in Latin America, Brazilian pre-paid virtual operator Veek – which first unveiled launch plans last summer – is now in its beta testing phase, and expects to launch on a commercial basis this June. Veek will piggyback on the TIM Participacoes (TIM Brasil) network, via an MVNE arrangement with Surf Telecom. Company founder Alberto Blanco boasts previous experience in the telecoms sector: he was the man in charge of Oi’s rebranding exercise at the turn of the millennium.

Over in eastern Europe, UK-based MVNO giant Lycamobile Group is expected to enter the Ukrainian market, in association with TriMob, the 3G mobile subsidiary of Ukrainian fixed line incumbent Ukrtelecom. According to a report by local news site BizLiga, the London firm has staged negotiations with Ukrtelecom’s controlling shareholder SCM Group, owned by Ukraine’s richest man Rinat Akhmetov, and will set up a locally-registered business to facilitate its planned MVNO launch.

Elsewhere in the region, fixed broadband operator TransTeleCom (TTK), which is wholly owned by state railway firm Russian Railways, has reportedly inked an MVNO wholesale agreement with mobile network operator (MNO) Tele2 Russia. According to ComNews, TTK will pay Tele2 a fee of RUB89.643 million (USD1.580 million) to gain access to its 2G/3G/4G networks, which cover 65 of Russia’s 85 regions. The MVNO will chiefly target Russian Railways’ one million-strong employee base.

In Asia, Japanese ISP-turned-MVNO IIJ has announced that its virtual user base reached 1.86 million as of 31 March 2017, representing an annual increase of 628,000 subscribers. Mobile revenue grew by 71.3% year-on-year in the quarter under review, to reach JPY26.7 billion (USD238.1 million). IIJ remains on track to become Japan’s first Full MVNO later this year.

Axiata Business Services (ABS), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Malaysia’s Axiata Group is set to acquire a 65% stake in Suvitech Co, the Bangkok-based owner and operator of an MVNE platform, for around USD11.05 million. In its domestic market, Suvitech has collaborated with state-backed CAT Telecom in the MVNO sector since June 2015.

Finally, Singapore-based MVNE/mobile virtual network aggregator (MVNA) Plintron has announced that it is the first company to receive a Unified Licence Virtual Network Operator (UL VNO) concession for all services, for all 22 geographic telecoms circles, from India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT). Mohan Kumar Sundaram, co-founder and chairman, Plintron Group, commented: ‘As an industry leader, we are looking forward to pioneer the VNO revolution in India and will soon announce various products.’

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