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

8 Oct 2018

Porto Seguro Conecta, Brazil’s largest MVNO by subscribers, has announced that it is shutting down, and transferring its 600,000-strong user base to network host TIM Brasil. The agreement is dependent on the approval of the Administrative Council for Economic Defence (Conselho Administrativo de Defesa Economica, CADE) and the National Telecommunications Agency (Agencia Nacional de Telecomunicacoes, Anatel). According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, insurance company Porto Seguro was the first company to receive an MVNO licence in Brazil, in November 2011, and launched in August 2012.

Elsewhere in Brazil, retail giant Magazine Luiza has contracted mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) Surf Telecom to assist with its MVNO launch preparations. Local site TeleSintese reports that a pilot project has been ongoing since August, with SIM cards available via the retailer’s 155 branches in Sao Paulo. Surf Telecom, an affiliate of Plintron, has facilitated the launch of a number of Brazilian MVNOs in recent years, including Correios Celular, Veek, GospelCel and the IoT-focused Eseye. Surf-affiliated MVNOs use TIM Brasil as a network partner, but the report says that Magazine Luiza will also leverage the Oi network.

Sticking with Latin America, Mexico also has a new MVNO, in the form of Miio (registered name King David Mobile). The Mexico City-based virtual player seeks to emulate the ‘freemium’ hook offered by FreedomPop. SIM cards are priced at MXN100 (including shipping), and the free monthly tariff includes 50MB of monthly data, 100 minutes of calls to domestic fixed lines and ten text messages. The identity of the host network provider has not yet been disclosed.

Gamma Communications, the UK-based full-service B2B telecoms provider, has announced the acquisition of Dutch B2B player DX Groep, which trades as Dean One. Dean One was formed on 1 February 2016, via the merger of OneXS and Dean Connect. The Dutch company launched MVNO services over the KPN network back in 2010.

In its domestic market, Gamma continues to see solid growth from its own MVNO proposition, reporting 42,000 mobile subscribers at 30 June 2018, up from 35,000 and end-December 2017. Broadband subscribers increased from 76,000 to 85,000 during the same time frame. As previously reported by MVNO Monday, in July 2017 Gamma completed its transition to a Full MVNO on the Three UK network, having ended its five-year ‘Thin MVNO’ association with Vodafone UK. The process also saw Gamma acquire its own core network. Going forward, Gamma notes that it is planning to introduce Wi-Fi calling functionality in the near future.

Also in the UK, another MVNO with designs on the B2B market is The Phone Co-Op. In its recent 2018-2022 strategy presentation the telco observed that it had 20,555 residential MVNO customers as of 31 August and is unlikely to turn a profit until 2021/22. However, if it changes tack and targets B2B mid-market customers it can reach profitability a full year earlier. The Phone Co-Op launched its own-brand pay-as-you-go SIM in partnership with the Co-operative Group in 2014. On 1 June 2018, The Phone Co-Op merged with The Midcounties Co-operative, one of the largest co-operatives in the UK.

UK-based GiffGaff filed its accounts for the twelve months ended 31 December 2017 on 28 September, reporting revenues of GBP407.4 million (USD534.3 million) for the year under review, up from GBP351.4 million in 2016. Profit after tax for the period increased to GBP28.7 million, from GBP23.4 million meanwhile. GiffGaff reported net subscriber adds of 261,417 in 2017, compared to 421,874 in 2016.

Turning our attention towards the M2M segment, India’s Tata Communications has agreed to take full ownership of Teleena, a Netherlands-based MVNE and IoT connectivity specialist. Tata bought an initial 35% stake in Teleena in January 2017.

Finally, sticking with M2M, MVNE giant Transatel has launched Ubigi, its new customer-facing brand dedicated to wireless services for the IoT sector. Transatel’s ambition is for the brand to become a worldwide reference in the IoT for seamless end-user experience.

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