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

2 Oct 2017

Canadian internet firm Tucows has announced that it has acquired US MVNO Roam Mobility from Otono Networks. Elliot Noss, President and CEO of Tucows, commented: ‘When we look at other services in this space, we tend to admire the ones that have solved a specific problem for a specific target. Roam has done a beautiful job for Canadians who travel to the United States.’ The acquisition includes three Roam brands (Roam Mobility, ZIP SIM and AlwaysOnline Wireless) that will each continue to operate independently alongside Tucows’ existing US MVNO, Ting. Both MVNOs operate over the Sprint network.

Turkish mobile market leader Turkcell has expanded its Lifecell digital brand to launch complete mobile communications packages including calls based entirely over the internet, with no standard mobile voice minutes/SMS included. Executive Vice President of Marketing Ismail Butun announced that the new range of three Lifecell mobile packages was in response to huge demand from internet users on the cellco’s national 4G network, claiming that the operator is ‘redefining the rules of the game in communications’ along a journey ‘from being a technology-focused network operator to being a service-oriented experience provider’.

Telstra has officially launched mobile operations via its Belong sub-brand. Belong managing director Antony de Jong commented: ‘We’ve been very deliberate in our approach of offering calling and text services as add-ons, turning conventional SIM-only plans on their head by providing mobile plans that just include data.’ SIM cards can be ordered through the Belong website, or purchased at Coles supermarkets and JB Hi-Fi stores. The service went live on 1 October. Belong currently claims to offer ‘simple hassle-free broadband internet’ via both Telstra’s ADSL network, and the National Broadband Network (NBN).

A new sub-brand has also emerged in Malaysia, where Maxis has launched ookyo, a 100% digital proposition, which lets users manage their 4G experience exclusively through an app. 10% of whatever a user spends via the ookyo app will be credited back to their Google Play account, with further benefits available for customers who sign up friends for the service.

Sticking with Asia, Japanese online retailer Rakuten has announced that is spinning off the domestic MVNO business currently operated by Plus One Marketing (POM) via a ‘simplified absorption-type split’. Following the reorganisation, Rakuten and POM will continue to engage in collaborative efforts to review business synergies, however. POM’s major shareholders are listed as Kaoru Masuda (31.7%) and Yodobashi Camera Co. (22.3%). The new corporate structure is expected to take effect on 1 November 2017.

In Austria, Goood Mobile has officially launched over the A1 Telekom Austria network. The new MVNO – technically a branded reseller – pitches itself as a charity proposition, whereby 10% of its revenues are donated to good causes, such as Caritas, Care Austria and World Wildlife Fund. Goood, the product of a crowd-funding campaign, is already active in Germany, TeleGeography notes.

Finally, Interop Technologies has been selected by Tiercel Wireless to deploy its virtualised Rich Communications Services (RCS) solution to the virtual operator’s user base. Tiercel Wireless has also chosen to deploy Interop’s OTT MVNO solution, which includes telco-grade voice and legacy messaging services using Wi-Fi and LTE data networks.

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Australia, Austria, Japan, Malaysia, Turkey, United States, Belong, Goood (Austria), Interop Technologies, Lifecell (Turkey), ookyo, Roam Mobility, Tiercell Wireless, Ting, Tucows