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

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31 Jul 2017

Seville-based La Liga football club Real Betis has launched Betis Movil, which it claims represents the first football-related MVNO launch in Spain. In addition to ‘very competitive rates’, the MVNO will seek to gain traction via a points programme which allows users to gain access to exclusive Real Betis content. Interestingly, the MVNO has been launched in association with Grupo MASMOVIL, the full-service telecoms provider which grew its business via a series of MVNO-focused acquisitions. TeleGeography notes that recent months have seen football-themed MVNOs launch in markets as diverse as Brazil, Austria and Iran.

Oman Ooredoo has announced that its Shababiah sub-brand recently passed the one million customer mark. Re-launched in 2016, Shababiah claims to cater to ‘tech-savvy millennials’ and has gained traction by positioning itself as a ‘lifestyle partner’ and offering sponsorships, hosting events and staging movie premieres.

Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN) has announced that its MVNO business has achieved 200,000 registered subscriptions as of mid-July – just ten months after its commercial launch. The telco claims that 90% of its subscribers have ported their mobile numbers from an existing service provider, while more than half of HKBN’s mobile customers bundle additional core services along with their mobile subscription. Further, beyond individual customers, about 4,000 companies have also registered to HKBN’s mobile services, of which close to 70% also subscribe to the company’s fixed line services.

Soriana Movil, the joint venture between Mexican telco Maxcom and domestic supermarket chain Soriana, has gone live over the Telcel network. At launch, the service is available via all 19 major stores in Mexico City and Monterrey, and is expected to be at more than 950 points of sale by the end of 2018. The partners expect to achieve between 750,000 and one million active users within the first five years of operation.

Another MVNO with high hopes is Lycamobile Ukraine, which is now officially live. At a press conference last week, Lycamobile ‘project partner’ Volodymyr Kosterin said: ‘The company can reach one million Ukrainian subscribers in the coming year. We applied to the regulator [National Commission for State Regulation of Communications and Informatization (NCCIR, or locally abbreviated to NKRZI)] for such a number of SIM cards.’ The new MVNO operates over the network belonging to TriMob, the 3G mobile subsidiary of Ukrainian fixed line incumbent Ukrtelecom.

Finally, Japan’s NTT Communications has launched the nation’s first pilot of embedded SIMs (eSIMs) for connection and remote provisioning for MVNOs. The operator said it has built an environment for remote SIM provisioning on its MVNO platform in Hong Kong supporting both M2M and consumer devices. NTT Com will now launch verification tests in Japan – in light of the GSMA’s efforts to promote the standardisation of eSIMs for M2M and consumer models. eSIMs SIMs can be remotely rewritten or changed for specific purposes without needing to replace the card. This functionality can therefore provide customers with access to their preferred mobile networks while traveling overseas and temper restrictions such as permanent roaming prohibitions.

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