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

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15 Jan 2018

Turkcell Europe, the German MVNO that has piggybacked on the Telekom Deutschland network since April 2011, has revealed plans to rebrand as Lifecell. Philipp Mertens, managing director of Telekom Deutschland Multibrand (TDM) – which has operated Turkcell Europe since January 2015 – commented: ‘Our co-operation with Turkcell has been extremely successful over the last three years, so we will be targeting other clients in Turkey … and Lifecell will be well-placed to serve a wider audience.’ As previously reported by TeleGeography’s MVNO Monday, the Lifecell sub-brand was introduced by Turkcell in its domestic market back in September 2017.

Chilean MVNO Movil Falabella, part of the retail group Falabella, is set to shut down, after struggling to generate a profit. According to an announcement on its website, the MVNO will cease operating on 30 September. Local press sources have suggested that the retailer will now throw its weight behind its instore ‘Falabella Connect’ departments, which sell mobile plans on behalf of other local operators, and generate higher returns. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Movil Falabella launched in September 2013, and its user base peaked in December 2014, when it reached 103,555.

In related news, the Chilean MVNO sector as a whole saw its fortunes wane in the first nine months of 2017. According to the latest statistical data from the Department of Telecommunications (Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones, Subtel), as of 30 September 2017 the MVNO market comprised 554,398 subscribers, down from a peak of 640,835 at end-2016. Virgin Mobile Chile was the worst affected operator, losing more than 100,000 subscribers in that nine-month time-frame, although cableco VTR went some way to addressing the market-wide slump, adding around 40,000 MVNO users.

Louis Audet, CEO of Canadian cableco Cogeco, has thrown his weight behind calls for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to embrace so-called ‘Wi-Fi first MVNOs’, in an effort to counter the reluctance by domestic MNOs to offer wholesale access. Audet told The Globe and Mail: ‘The established players have no interest in seeing MVNOs and greater competition. So, if the government becomes serious about enabling competition, it will grant Wi-Fi-based operators the status of facilities-based competitors, which can then roam on other people’s networks.’ In June last year, Navdeep Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) ordered the CRTC to reconsider a decision related to Wi-Fi-first MVNOs.

Dutch MVNO Choozze has stopped selling new subscriptions, Telecompaper reports, citing Florian Overkamp, the CEO of parent company SpeakUp. The MVNO, which is based in Enschede piggybacks on the T-Mobile Netherlands network.

Crimea-based CDMA operator Intertelecom, which stopped providing services after its licence expired at the beginning of 2018, is expected to relaunch as an MVNO. Going forward, Intertelecom will seek to deliver connectivity via the network of fellow regional operator Sevmobile, which operates in the city of Sebastopol.

Finally, China Mobile has registered a subsidiary in Russia, ComNews reports, with a view to serving Russian branches of China-based companies. While the new operator will initially prioritise offering international data connectivity between Europe and Asia, it is expected that the company could also go on to launch MVNO services in Russia, targeting the Chinese diaspora.

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Canada, Chile, Germany, Netherlands, Russia, Canadian Radio-television and Telecoms Commission (CRTC), Choozze, Cogeco Connexion, Department of Telecommunications (Subtel), Intertelecom Crimea, Movil Falabella, Sevtelecom, Turkcell Europe (Lifecell), Virgin Mobile Chile, VTR