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

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22 Jan 2018

A consortium headed by Deirdre Acheson, a former head of customer operations at Tesco Mobile Ireland, has expressed an interest in buying iD Mobile Ireland, the MVNO put up for sale by Dixons Carphone last year. According to The Times, the new venture has revived Clever Communications, which was formed more than twelve years ago by Niall Norton, a former chief financial officer of O2 Ireland, and the venture capitalist and former Esat chief Barry Maloney. The executives intend to launch a new MVNO service even if their iD Mobile bid proves unsuccessful, the report adds. Norton is now the chief executive of Dublin-based software firm Openet, which is expected to provide technical support for the newcomer.

Sticking with Ireland, Virgin Media has announced that its Irish MVNO passed the 50,000 customer milestone earlier this month. The announcement was made at Virgin Media HQ in Dublin by Sir Richard Branson who visited to congratulate staff. The MVNO launched in October 2015, over the Hutchison 3G Ireland network.

Australian media company Southern Cross Austereo has strategically invested AUD5 million (USD4 million) in domestic MVNO OVO Mobile and its ‘rapidly expanding’ OVOPlay media streaming platform, it has been revealed. IT Wire reports that, since the launch of its first products in August 2016, OVO has ‘more than doubled its customer base quarter-to-quarter, and seen 600% growth since January 2017’. OVO has exploited a niche by purchasing ‘the exclusive broadcast rights for Australian sports that have a large grassroots following, but where fans have little opportunity to engage with the sport outside of attending an event’. In other news, OVO has renewed its five-year wholesale deal with network partner Optus.

Issa Asad, founder and CEO of Q Link Wireless, has announced that the company has received approval from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch subsidised Lifeline services in Hawaii. Presiding over a user base of 1.9 million subscribers, Q Link is the third largest Lifeline carrier in the US, and operates in 29 states plus the territory of Puerto Rico. As such, Hawaii is the 30th state where the company has been licensed to operate.

Phone-ix, the MVNO owned by CTT Correios de Portugal, the Portuguese post office, will switch from the PT Portugal (MEO) network to that of Vodafone Portugal, Jornal de Negocios reports. The three-year contract is set to be worth around EUR760,000 (USD928,607), and is expected to take effect immediately, with the previous deal having expired on 31 December 2017.

Polish mobile operator P4 (Play) has signed an agreement granting it an option to acquire MVNO partner Virgin Mobile Polska in 2020. The deal was signed with Virgin Mobile Polska’s main shareholders – Dirlango Trading and Investments and Virgin Mobile Central & Eastern Europe (VMCEE) – and other investors, including Delta Partners, Lukasz Wejchert and Kai-Uwe Ricke. It gives P4 a call option to acquire all shares in the MVNO during 2020 at an agreed valuation methodology based on Virgin’s one-time annual revenue, adjusted by certain elements. The agreement also guarantees P4 minimum revenues of PLN84 million (USD24 million) from the resale arrangement with Virgin for the years 2018-2021.

Norway’s NextGenTel Holding has confirmed that the Norwegian Competition Authority (Konkurransetilsynet) has approved the sale of the telco’s consumer mobile customer portfolio to Telia Norge. The transaction is now expected to close during June 2018. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s MVNO Monday, the deal was agreed in December 2017, and includes some 38,000 consumer mobile subscribers.

T-Systems, the corporate/ICT division of Germany’s Deutsche Telekom (DT), is launching an IoT/M2M-focused MVNO in Brazil, hosted by the Claro Brasil network, under an agreement announced on 15 January. Brazilian clients will be offered T-Systems’ ‘IoT Service Portal’ M2M communications management and control platform, currently available in Europe, China and the US.

Finally, UK-based pay-TV/broadband provider-turned-MVNO Sky Mobile has claimed that it has saved its customers over GBP20 million (USD27.7 million) in its first year of service, via the ‘Sky Mobile Roll’ feature, which rolls over the previous month’s unused data. Data can be left in your ‘Sky Piggybank’ for up to three years. Sky Mobile commercial director Liz Wynn told Mobile News: ‘When we entered the smartphone market we wanted to tackle the issue of unused data and customers paying too much for their allowance … We created Sky Mobile and Roll to challenge this status quo. One year on we can see its working, with our customers already saving GBP20 million worth of data.’

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