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

18 Jun 2018

Telefonica Espana (Movistar) has confirmed that it will soft-launch its new O2 sub-brand in Spain on 20 June. The new venture is headed by the newly-recruited Pedro Serrahima, the founder and former CEO of Spanish MVNO Pepephone, which is now owned by Grupo MASMOVIL. O2 will offer a monthly mobile plan including unlimited calls and a 20GB data allowance for EUR20 (USD23.5). O2 will also offer a converged mobile/fibre plan, including unlimited calls and 20GB of mobile data alongside 100Mbps fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) connectivity. This is priced at EUR45 or EUR58 per month, depending on whether a subscriber is located in a regulator-stipulated ‘competitive zone’. In these 66 ‘competitive’ municipalities Telefonica is free to set its own reduced prices. The O2 brand is currently used by Telefonica for its mobile services in the UK, where the brand was initially launched by BT in 2002.

Sticking with Spain, international MVNO Lebara Movil has launched 4G services over the Vodafone Spain network, following in the footsteps of Valencia-based HiTS Mobile, which was belatedly permitted to launch 4G services in April this year.

MTN Business Namibia is set to launch its Telecom Namibia-powered MVNO in August this year, company executive Hester Marais informed Reuters. The MVNO will be a platform for the South African-backed group to introduce mobile financial services. MTN was seemingly granted its MVNO concession in 2017 after agreeing to offload a 30% stake to local investors. The stake was acquired by Windhoek-based Profile Technologies, which is owned by local businessman Vaino Nghipondoka.

Lithuanian fibre provider Penki, which claims to deliver network coverage to some 120,000 households in Vilnius, has launched a data-centric MVNO service using *Bite*’s LTE-A network. The modem-based 4G service has been designed to allow existing subscribers to maintain an internet connection when they are elsewhere in the country. It is unclear if the ISP intends to introduce mobile handsets in the future.

In Mexico, El Economista reports that Islim Telco is aiming to be the first reseller to launch mobile services over the wholesale ‘Red Compartida’ 4G 700MHz network launched in March by the ALTAN Redes consortium. Islim Telco is authorised to resell mobile and fixed telephony services, SMS, data transmission, internet access, dedicated links and certain TV services, under a concession running from April 2018 to April 2028. The contract between the wholesale network operator and Islim was given regulatory endorsement on 25 May, the report adds. As recently reported in MVNO Monday, Virgin Mobile Mexico has indicated that it is keen to renegotiate its exclusive wholesale contract with network host Movistar Mexico to allow it to make use of the Red Compartida open-access 700MHz network.

Finally, Russian fixed line operator TransTeleCom (TTK), which is wholly owned by state firm Russian Railways, has confirmed that it has extended the availability of its MVNO service to Novosibirsk, Kemerovo and Altai, meaning that mobile connectivity is now available in seven regions. TeleGeography understands that the MVNO – which launched in July 2017 over the Tele2 Russia network – chiefly targets Russian Railways’ one million-strong employee base.

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