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

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16 Jul 2018

Oman’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has issued a public consultation as it considers relaxing rules relating to the size of stakes held by domestic mobile network operators (MNOs) in local MVNOs/resellers. The watchdog notes: ‘The authority feels that such a proposal will sustain the MVNO business on a long-term basis and incentivise the host network operators to reach out to customer segments that they traditionally ignore for commercial considerations (high overhead costs). The primary intention is to achieve synergies of operations between the entities who right now may be operating with a “confrontation perspective” and bring them to a supportive relationship. Hence, a more secure method of ensuring sustenance of the businesses of MVNOs could be through structuring the ownership and management control.’ The TRA is seeking responses from stakeholders by 5 August. TeleGeography notes that Oman is currently home to just two MVNOs, FRiENDi Mobile and Renna Mobile, and Shababiah, an Ooredoo sub-brand. However, a number of MVNOs have exited the sector in recent years, including the likes of Halafoni, Apna Mobile, Mazoon Mobile and Samatel.

Filipino media giant ABS-CBN Corp, which operates an MVNO under the ABS-CBNmobile brand name, has confirmed that it is looking at ‘more profitable opportunities’ in the content business with Globe Telecom, after the two companies agreed to wind down their network sharing agreement. In a stock exchange filing, ABS-CBN noted that its mobile business model was ‘financially unsustainable’ and the MVNO will be discontinued later this year, at a date approved by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).

Mexican cableco Megacable plans to launch an MVNO over the Red Compartida 700MHz 4G wholesale network launched in March this year by the ALTAN Redes consortium, CEO Enrique Yamuni has confirmed. The executive told El Universal that his company has ‘practically reached an agreement’ with the wholesaler, and could introduce the service in late-2018 or early-2019. The wholesale network covered 32.2% of the population at launch, including locations such as Mexico City, Nuevo Leon, Jalisco, Puebla, Michoacan, Colima, Nayarit, Aguascalientes and Guanajuato.

Spanish alternative telecoms operator Grupo MASMOVIL is preparing to shut down its Happy Movil brand, some four years after striking a deal to acquire the smaller player. The Happy Movil website now redirects customers to a page on the MASMOVIL Telecom website, and new subscriptions are no longer being sold. First launched by Carphone Warehouse back in 2006, a takeover was agreed by MASMOVIL in July 2014, and the deal concluded in February 2015. MASMOVIL went on to acquire fellow MVNOs Pepephone (September 2016) and LlamaYA Movil (January 2017), and MNO Yoigo (October 2016).

Finally, cyan AG, a European provider of white-labelled IT security solutions for telcos, banks and insurance companies as well as gaming and cryptocurrency platforms, has agreed to acquire a 76.81 % stake in MVNO I-New Unified Mobile Solutions from Austria-based Novomatic. The transaction has been valued at EUR17.1 million (USD20.0 million); EUR3.5 million of this figure will be paid via an earn-out model depending on the earnings development of I-New in 2019, 2020 and 2021. I-New currently serves around 40 MVNOs, which together account for around 5.5 million end-users. Prominent I-New clients include the subsidiaries of Virgin Mobile Latin America (VMLA).

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