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

24 Sep 2018

Simyo, the Spanish sub-brand backed by Orange Espana, has announced that it has passed the one million subscriber mark. Simyo credits its growth to its extensive list of ‘create your rate’ tariff combinations, which is said to comprise 2,000 potential price plans. Simyo was acquired by Orange Espana – from Dutch telco KPN – back in December 2012. The unit initially launched over the Orange network in January 2008.

Sticking with Spain, a pair of MVNOs – Pepephone and DIGI Mobil – have entered the fixed line market via wholesale deals with Telefonica Espana (Movistar). According to their respective websites, the virtual operators are now offering fixed broadband at speeds of up to 200Mbps (Pepephone) and 500Mbps (DIGI). DIGI’s new service – which has been launched to celebrate its tenth anniversary as a Spanish MVNO – is currently restricted to Madrid but will be extended to other areas in due course.

Elsewhere in Europe, Italian MVNO Optima Mobile, which operates over the Vodafone Italy network, has informed customers that they can now access the host’s 4G LTE network.

Australia’s TPG Telecom claimed 422,000 MVNO subscribers at 31 July 2018, down from 445,000 in July 2017 and 475,000 in July 2016. TeleGeography notes that the full-service operator recently agreed a ‘merger of equals’ with host network operator Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA), meaning its days as a virtual operator could be numbered.

Finally, TracFone Wireless – the largest MVNO in the US, with 22.126 million subscribers at 30 June 2018 – has come out in support of the proposed merger between mobile network operator Sprint and T-Mobile US, in what could prove to be a crucial development. A key component of the argument against the merger is that the tie-up will reduce the number of wholesale options for virtual operators, but the MVNO giant told the Federal Communications Commission (FCC): ‘TracFone expects that the ‘New T-Mobile’ will increase the MNO wholesale competition for TracFone’s business and thus reduce wholesale costs. As a result, TracFone expects this new competition will enable it to continue to compete successfully in the retail wireless market … When T-Mobile delivers the stronger 5G network it projects, MVNOs may also explore the opportunity to enter new markets, including IoT, and other 5G-enabled wholesale services’.

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