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

6 Nov 2017

Sprint and Altice USA (the holding company comprising Cablevision and Suddenlink) have unveiled a new multi-year Full MVNO agreement, which will see the emergent US cable operator utilise Sprint’s network to provide nationwide mobile voice and data services. Running in parallel, Sprint will leverage the Altice USA broadband platform to accelerate the densification of its network. The two parties have described the tie-up as a ‘first of its kind agreement’, and the Full MVNO component of the pact will allow Altice to retain control over mobile features, functionality and customer experience. Altice USA Chairman & CEO Dexter Goei commented: ‘Working together we will be able to capitalise on Sprint’s vast mobile network, which fits well alongside Altice USA’s deep Wi-Fi network, and leverage Altice’s global mobile experience to deliver greater value, more benefits and seamless connectivity for our US customers.’ A projected launch date for the MVNO service has not been disclosed.

Indian cellco Reliance Communications (RCOM) is considering keeping a toehold in the consumer mobile market by offering services as an MVNO once it exits the mobile network operator (MNO) business. The Economic Times writes that executive director Punit Garg confirmed speculation that the company would look to continue offering 4G services as an MVNO as it gradually offloads its spectrum and network infrastructures assets to reduce its debt burden of roughly INR450 billion (USD6.96 billion). The development follows an announcement earlier this week that RCOM had presented a ‘zero write-off’ plan to its creditors, under which it would monetise its spectrum, tower and real estate assets and shift to operating a ‘non-mobile B2B business’. The debt-laden firm chose to abandon the wireless sector amidst intense competition from newcomer Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio) and after regulatory uncertainty scuppered the cellco’s planned merger with Aircel.

Russian corporate telco MCN Telecom is poised to activate its planned MVNO service in Moscow, St Petersburg and four other cities with a population of more than one million. According to local site Telecom Daily, the new virtual service will piggyback on the Tele2 Russia network, and utilise a mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) platform supplied by long-distance operator Multiregional Transit Telecom (MTT).

Slovenian MVNO IZI Mobil is to shut down its operations on 31 December this year, transferring its customer base to host network provider Telekom Slovenije. IZI Mobil customers will see no change to their services or tariffs following the switch, ‘until further notice’. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, IZI Mobil had around 62,500 pre-paid customers at the end of June 2017, accounting for the vast majority of mobile resale users in Slovenia.

Finally, Japanese online retailer Rakuten has completed the spin-off of its domestic MVNO business, as operated by Plus One Marketing (POM) via a ‘simplified absorption-type split’. POM’s major shareholders are said to be Kaoru Masuda (31.7%) and Yodobashi Camera Co. (22.3%). The new corporate structure took effect on 1 November 2017. Going forward, Rakuten and POM will continue to engage in collaborative efforts to review business synergies, however.

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India, Japan, Russia, Slovenia, United States, Altice USA (Optimum), Cablevision Systems (Optimum), IZI, MCN Telecom, MTT (owned by MTS), Reliance Communications (RCOM), Sprint Corporation (became part of T-Mobile US), Suddenlink Communications, Tele2 Russia

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