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

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10 Dec 2018

Australia’s Optus Mobile is poised to shut down its sub-brand Vividwireless, which has operated over the Optus network since being acquired back in 2012. The telco started life as a wireless ISP, launching WiMAX services in 2010, using the 2.3GHz band. Optus’s AUD230 million (USD232 million) acquisition of Vividwireless, which closed in June 2012, was primarily conceived as spectrum play, but Optus chose to preserve the company as a 4G sub-brand. The Vividwireless website reads: ‘We have now decided to close the Vividwireless business and Vividwireless will cease to provide services from April 2019. From April 2019 all wireless home internet will continue to be provided on the Optus 4G Plus network by Optus under the Optus brand.’

Italian MVNO Erg Mobile has announced plans to shut down its operations in March 2019. The operator was set up in April 2009 by the oil and energy group Erg, utilising the network of Vodafone Italy, with subscribers offered bonuses on their mobile account when refuelling at Erg petrol stations. The arrival of low-cost MNO Iliad, plus the launch of competing low-cost sub-brands by major telcos such as TIM (Kena Mobile) and Vodafone (ho), has hit smaller resellers such as Erg, however. From a peak of over 420,000 subscribers at end-2016 Erg Mobile now serves under 70,000 users.

Sticking with Italy, the fixed and mobile reseller NOITEL has announced that it is switching host providers and adding 4G services to its portfolio. Launching its MVNO service in 2013, NOITEL initially used the network of 3 Italia before moving to TIM subsidiary Noverca two years later. The firm now says it will transfer its services to Vodafone Italy and begin to provide 4G tariffs in spring 2019. It also plans to offer new services for business users as well as IoT solutions.

Finally, cause-based British MVNO The People’s Operator UK (TPO UK) has announced that it has secured a proposal for major investment and funding from WWW Holding Company, a non-trading company which owns a majority stake in international MVNO specialist Lycamobile Group. The negotiations have been underway since July 2018 and WWW has now agreed to provide TPO UK with working capital of up to GBP50,000 (USD63,615) per calendar week as bridging finance while discussions continue. Going forward, WWW will be issued with 645,000 New Ordinary Shares (valued at GBP0.10 each), equivalent to a 29.92% stake in the business.

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