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

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18 Dec 2017

China Mobile International (CMI) has launched an MVNO in the UK under the CMLink brand name. The new virtual operator will piggyback on the EE network and target the 433,000-strong Chinese community living in the UK, alongside the 82,000 Chinese currently studying there on student visas. Further, CMLink will offer free calls to China Mobile subscribers located in mainland China. Monthly SIM-only tariffs range from GBP5 (USD6.7) to GBP18, depending on the amount of data required.

MVNO Camara de Cooperativas de Telecomunicaciones (Catel), which represents 31 telecoms cooperatives across Argentina, is aiming to sign up 300,000 users during the first phase of its planned launch in early 2018, Catel president Ariel Fernandez Alvarado was cited as saying. TeleSemana reports that the startup will invest around USD2 million to deploy services in nine provinces, namely Buenos Aires, Chubut, Cordoba, La Pampa, Mendoza, Misiones, Rio Negro, Santa Cruz and Santa Fe. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s MVNO Monday, the National Entity for Communications (Ente Nacional de Comunicaciones, ENACOM) officially awarded an MVNO concession to Catel last week, with the company reaching a deal to roam over Telefonica Moviles’ (Movistar’s) network shortly after.

In its most recent trading statement covering the three months ended 30 September 2017, Dixons Carphone has confirmed that its UK MVNO iD Mobile ‘continues to benefit from its differentiated proposition’ with the number of active customers increasing to 715,000 from 600,000 at the end of the last financial year. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s MVNO Monday, the iD Mobile Ireland remains classified as a ‘business to be exited’, and no operational metrics are provided.

Sticking with the UK, pay-TV giant turned multi-play operator Sky, added 108,000 new mobile subscribers in the three months ended 30 September 2017, increasing its mobile user base to 205,000. Sky reported 97,000 MVNO subscribers at 30 June, up from 23,000 at 31 March 2017. The company’s SIM-only offer went live in January this year.

Orange Polska has revealed that its sub-brand nju mobile has signed up over 800,000 subscribers (500,000 post-paid and 300,000 pre-paid) since it launched services in March 2013.

Further afield, Tele2 Russia has reportedly launched its own in-house mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) service, as it seeks to position itself as an ‘MVNO factory’. Sergey Volkov, Director of Development for MVNOs and Partnerships at Tele2, noted that the new platform will enable it to tailor MVNO projects to suit the requirements of specific companies, and expects to facilitate the launch of around a dozen new MVNOs each year.

Also in Russia, Tinkoff Bank, an online-only bank which eschews branches and ATMs, launched its MVNO, Tinkoff Mobile on 13 December. The newcomer operates as a Full MVNO over the Tele2 Russia network.

Earlier in December saw the launch of another MVNO, B2B-focused MCN Telecom, which switched on its virtual network in Moscow, St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Krasnodar, Novosibirsk and Rostov-on-Don. MCN is hosted on the Tele2 Russia network, but utilises an MVNE platform supplied by long-distance operator Multiregional Transit Telecom (MTT).

Finally, UK MVNE x-Mobility has announced that it has launched new global data roaming bundles for UK MVNOs to be able to offer to their subscribers. The new bundles mean that subscribers can use data internationally as if part of their UK data allowance and under similar terms as their UK data bundle. Data roaming bundles offered by x-Mobility have previously included Europe, but the new global data roaming bundles include the USA, Australia, Canada, South Africa, Thailand, Hong Kong and Turkey, as well as many other destinations in the Far East, Asia and Africa.

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