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

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25 Sep 2017

Telefonica’s multi-country sub-brand Tuenti has reached the one million subscriber milestone across its five active markets, it has been announced. TeleGeography notes that social network-turned-MVNO Tuenti was launched in Spain in December 2010, before going live in Mexico, Argentina and Peru (all 2014), Ecuador (2015) and Guatemala (2017). The Mexican unit was discontinued last summer, after witnessing poor take-up. Across its markets, Tuenti aims to provide an end-to-end digital experience, with a key focus on its over-the-top (OTT) multi-platform app that increases customer engagement.

Over in Thailand, DTAC TriNet Network (DTN), a subsidiary of Digital Total Access Communication (DTAC), has launched its previously mooted Line Mobile sub-brand. DTN has stressed that the service is not an MVNO, and it has merely acquired the rights to use the name ‘Line Mobile’ from Line Thailand, a subsidiary of the Japanese messaging application firm, Line. Despite previous assurances from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) that no wrongdoing has occurred, MNO rivals Advanced Info Service (AIS) and True have submitted fresh complaints, prompting the regulator to convene a 30-day working panel to scrutinise the issue further.

In Australia, Telstra has revealed plans to enter the low-budget MVNO space, via its fixed line sub-brand Belong. Belong currently claims to offer ‘simple hassle-free broadband internet’ via both Telstra’s ADSL network, and the National Broadband Network (NBN). According to chief executive Andrew Penn, the broadband unit currently claims some 150,000 subscribers, equivalent to around 5% of Telstra’s fixed broadband business.

Polish cable TV and broadband provider UPC is looking to increase its focus on the MVNO sector, and has confirmed that it is switching its host network from Orange Polska to P4. Although UPC is Poland’s largest cableco with over 1.1 million broadband subscribers, its modest MVNO user base has been in decline in recent years and numbered just 4,600 by mid-2017, down from a nominal peak of 27,600 in March 2013.

Finally, US cable giant Charter Communications is conducting field trials of its planned MVNO service between now and March 2018, with a view to staging a commercial launch in June or July next year. Fierce Wireless quotes Craig Cowden, Charter’s SVP of wireless technology, as saying: ‘We want to make sure most of that traffic goes over Wi-Fi and not the MVNO. Wi-Fi is an important part of what we do and will continue to be … There’s a ‘Light’ or reseller MVNO on one end of the continuum and there’s really a ‘Full’ model on the other end, and with Verizon we have a light or reseller model, where we’re using their Evolved Packet Core, we’re using their IMS infrastructure, their SIM cards, their roaming relationships, and in general that’s how the United States works from an MVNO model standpoint.’ As previously reported by TeleGeography’s MVNO Monday, Charter activated its dormant 2011 MVNO deal with mobile market leader Verizon Wireless in September 2016, following a similar move by chief rival Comcast.

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