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

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9 Jul 2018

US cable giant Charter Communications, which trades as Spectrum, has officially launched its long-awaited MVNO over the Verizon Wireless network. Branded Spectrum Mobile, it is understood that the service is currently restricted to the cableco’s broadband customers. It has previously been stated that the MVNO will be a ‘Wi-Fi first’ proposition, leveraging Charter’s 500,000-strong hotspot network, alongside the cellular connection. Back in 2011 Verizon purchased AWS-1 spectrum from Comcast, Bright House Networks, Time Warner Cable (TWC) and Cox Communications (collectively known as SpectrumCo), and in return gave those companies access to its wireless network for use in a potential MVNO offering further down the line. While Charter was not included in the original transaction, its 2016 dual-takeover of TWC and Bright House gave it access to the dormant MVNO deal. Comcast’s own MVNO went live in April 2017.

Brazil looks set to welcome a new MVNO, following the award of a licence to J. Safra Telecomunicacoes, part of Sao Paulo-based Grupo Safra, which has interests in banking, real estate and agribusiness. According to TeleSintese, Safra has signed a ten-year wholesale contract with mobile network operator (MNO) Claro Brasil.

Vectone Mobile Portugal has informed the National Communications Authority (Autoridade Nacional de Comunicacoes, ANACOM) that it ceased operating on 4 July, prompting the regulator to insist that the MVNO must give its users a three-month window within which to port their number to an alternative provider. ANACOM’s announcement observes that the virtual operator – which launched back in November 2012 – has fewer than 5,000 subscribers, although the watchdog has not provided a quarterly statistical breakdown for the company since 1Q17.

Vodafone Greece has been granted approval to acquire Cypriot-owned alternative fixed line and broadband operator Cyta Hellas by the Hellenic Telecommunications & Post Commission (Ethniki Epitropi Tilepikoinonion kai Tachydromeion, EETT), in a deal valued at around EUR117 million (USD152 million). Cyta, which launched its Cyta Mobile MVNO service in July 2014, using the network of its soon-to-be parent Vodafone Greece network, offers one of the country’s few notable MVNOs.

Finally, UK-based B2B player Just Telecomms, part of Lincolnshire-based Just Utilities, says it has launched a new MVNO, which utilises the ISTRA Cloud platform developed by French solution provider Centile. The identity of the MVNO’s host network has not been disclosed. Just Telecomms previously provided VoIP and PSTN services to businesses in the East Midlands area.

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