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

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4 Sep 2017

Vodafone UK has announced the launch of a new sub-brand named VOXI, which is expected to compete in the traditional MVNO space. Co-created in consultation with the ‘under 25’ demographic it seeks to target, Vodafone notes that VOXI will allow users to use selected social media apps, such as Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitter and Viber without affecting their data allowance. Dan Lambrou, Head of VOXI, commented: ‘Why should young people make do with the same mobile plans as everyone else, when they use their phones differently and often can’t access the best deals?’ VOXI SIM cards will be available from 8 September.

Virgin Mobile UAE is now live in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The unit is technically a sub-brand of Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC), the holding company of local fixed and mobile operator Du, which licensed the distinctive brand from Richard Branson’s Virgin Group is February this year. EITC has reportedly licensed the Virgin Mobile moniker for five years, giving it full rights to ownership, management and operation of the brand in the UAE.

Sydney-based integrated telecommunications software and service provider MNF Group has announced a ‘sub-wholesale’ MVNO deal between Symbio Networks and Telstra Wholesale. Under the deal, Symbio’s wholesale customers will be able to bill directly to their own customers and offer roaming options, as well as enabling more flexible contracting and higher pricing. MNF says that the sub-wholesale MVNO service will operate across its proprietary iBoss platform, allowing new mobile players to go to market within four weeks, and to activate SIM cards in just seven seconds.

Russian ISP/pay-TV provider Cifra Odin has reportedly inked a wholesale deal with Tele2 Russia, which will allow it to enter the local MVNO market. According to ComNews, the MVNO is likely to be operational by July 2019, and expects to sign up ‘several hundred thousand’ subscribers after two years of service. The ISP is currently active in Moscow Region, Podolsky, Dmitrov, Naro-Fominsk, Klin, Stupin, Solnechnogorsk, Krasnogorsk, Luberetsk and Leninsky.

African wireless broadband operator YooMee Cameroon has entered the local mobile market as an MVNO, Agence Ecofin reports. YooMee Mobile will operate over the network of state-backed mobile market minnow CamTel, as per a contract signed in February this year. Chief executive Emmanuel Forson told the news site that the operator is no longer owned by Switzerland-based YooMee Africa, and is now 100% locally owned. The name of the local shareholder has not been disclosed.

Elsewhere in Africa, Zimpost, Zimbabwe’s state-owned postal and courier company, has informed TechZim that it is in the process of implementing an MVNO project, and is awaiting only a licence from the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ). Zimpost expects to be the country’s first operational MVNO.

Finally, according to Business Daily Africa, Airtel Kenya earned KES309.8 million (USD3.0 million) in revenue from leasing out its network to MVNOs in 2016, up from KES175.1 million in 2015 and KES60.0 million in 2014. Airtel currently hosts at least three MVNOs on its network, most notably Finserve Africa (Equitel), which claimed 1.727 million subscribers as of 31 March 2017.

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