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

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5 Jun 2017

Vodafone Italy plans to introduce a low-cost MVNO service before the end of 2017 to compete with Telecom Italia’s (TI’s) recently launched Kena Mobile unit, Milano Finanza has reported. According to the article, Vodafone registered a new company called Vei in March and is expected to operate as a Full MVNO. While Kena Mobile, which offers customers monthly voice/data tariffs starting at a knock-down EUR1.99 (USD2.25), is likely to be viewed as Vodafone’s chief inspiration, the anticipated launch can also be perceived as a pre-emptive strike against France’s Iliad Group. The latter will launch as a low-budget mobile network operator (MNO) in early 2018, using spectrum and network assets freed up by the recently merged Italian operators Wind Telecomunicazioni and 3 Italia.

Former Vodacom South Africa executive Romeo Kumalo has confirmed that his plans to launch a ‘game-changing’ MVNO in South Africa are on track for a 2017 launch. According to My, Mr Kumalo seeks to enter the South African virtual market via his Washirika Holdings unit, before targeting Mozambique and Tanzania. Based on Vodacom’s international footprint, and the executive’s prior association with the company, the telco has been suggested as a likely network partner.

Sticking with Africa, Zimbabwe’s long-time MVNO aspirant Viva Mobile has claimed that it has signed a wholesale agreement with one of the country’s three MNOs, but is not in a position to disclose the identity of the other party until MVNO legislation has been formalised by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ). As previously reported by TeleGeography’s MVNO Monday, earlier this year POTRAZ issued a consultation regarding the introduction of MVNOs into the Zimbabwean mobile sector, proposing a ‘Full MVNO’ licence fee of USD50,000. ‘Light MVNO’ concessions are provisionally priced at USD30,000, while Branded Reseller licences will cost just USD1,000. Mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) permits, meanwhile, are expected to be priced at USD30,000. The consultation closed on 30 April, but the findings have not yet been made public.

Artilium-backed United Telecom has confirmed that it has acquired the 8,000-strong customer base of Digiweb Telecom in Belgium. Digiweb includes the residential and business-to-business (B2B) operations previously acquired from TalkTalk Belgium (April 2010) and Mondial Telecom (September 2013).

Elsewhere in Europe, Austrian MVNO Spusu has reached the 100,000 customer milestone, after launching in June 2015 over the Drei network. Spusu, was devised by Mass Response, an Austrian company which provides interactive mass response services for media and television companies.

Privately-owned MVNO Z Mobile has signed a deal with its host network, state-owned telco Post and Telecommunication Kosovo (PTK) – which offers services under the Kosovo Telecom and Vala brands – agreeing to waive a EUR32 million fine imposed by a London arbitration court over a breach of contract. Z-Mobile took the incumbent to court after the operator refused to allow the MVNO to offer 3G or 4G services and amidst accusations that PTK had not provided Z-Mobile with sufficient numbering resources. Under the agreement signed between the two parties, PTK will only pay out for Z-Mobile’s court costs and legal fees. PTK will also provide Z-Mobile with an additional 100,000 numbers and allow the MVNO to offer 3G and 4G services. Senior Z-Mobile officials have suggested that the company opted not to pursue the fine in order to prevent the collapse of PTK.

Finally, UK-based MDS has launched its new ‘VNOnDemand’ proposition, which it claims will help MVNOs to give their customers ‘on demand control, utilising digital channels to engage, purchase and personalise services’. The solution combines monetisation and analytics capabilities and will help to deliver a compelling digital experience, the company notes.

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