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

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11 Jun 2018

UK retailer Superdrug is set to launch a new MVNO over the Hutchison 3G UK (Three UK) network. Superdrug Mobile will be available exclusively to the twelve million members of Superdrug’s Health and BeautyCard loyalty scheme. The new virtual operator will launch on 20 June on a SIM-only basis, and be available at the retailer’s 807 UK stores. Lynda Burton, Three UK’s Director of Wholesale, commented: ‘We are very excited about Superdrug Mobile which is a great example of an already strong brand further strengthening its customer engagement model through a mobile offering. We worked closely together on the complex task of integrating their loyalty scheme into a mobile offering to deliver a great product.’ UK telecoms site The Register notes that Superdrug was sold to continental drugstore Kruidvat in 2001, which in turn was offloaded to Hong Kong conglomerate CK Hutchison in 2002 – the current owner of Three UK.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has reportedly reached out to the MVNO community as it reviews the proposed merger between mobile operators T-Mobile US and Sprint. According to Fierce Wireless, multiple MVNOs have been contacted by the DoJ, including FreedomPop, although the content of the discussions remains private. Sprint has traditionally been the most active wholesaler in the US mobile space, and a number of industry figures have expressed concerns that the merger could have a negative impact on the MVNO space unless conditions are applied.

Poland has a new MVNO in the form of Swedish-backed Rebtel. The self-styled ‘freemium’ operator will offer services using the Polkomtel (Plus) network. According to Rebtel boss Jonas Lornell the first 10,000 SIM cards will be made available via the MVNO’s ambassadors on an ‘invite-only’ basis.

Over in Belgium, Telenet, which operates as an MVNO over the BASE network, has revealed plans to launch VoLTE and VoWiFi services this summer. VoLTE will be automatically enabled on compatible devices, while VoWiFi must be enabled manually in a user’s settings. The telco targets 100,000 active VoLTE/VoWiFi users by the end of 2018.

Finally, UK mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) x-Mobility has revealed that it has added French mobile numbers to its offering. This now means that new MVNOs that use x-Mobility’s MVNE services can now offer French numbers to their subscribers. French is the sixth most widely spoken language in the world with over 220 million speakers worldwide, x-Mobility notes.

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Belgium, Poland, United Kingdom, United States, Hutchison 3G UK (Three UK), Rebtel, Superdrug Mobile, Telenet (incl. BASE), x-Mobility