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

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17 Dec 2018

VIEO, the holding company which operates international MVNO group Lebara, has published a trading update for the nine months ended 30 September 2018, reporting revenues of EUR335.1 million (USD378.7 million), down 16% on an annualised basis. The company credits the downturn on its ‘planned strategy of not acquiring unprofitable customers’. EBITDA (excluding deferred revenue adjustments) for the nine-month period was EUR42.9 million.

In operational terms, Lebara ended 30 September with 2.822 million subscribers, down from 3.200 million one year earlier, while year-to-date ARPU for 9M18 was EUR11.60. Lebara has now added 4G LTE access to its units in all markets except Germany, and now offers a SIM-only service in Netherlands, Denmark, UK, France, Spain and Germany.

In other news, Lebara CEO Graeme Oxby has stepped down and been replaced by CFO Olivier Sage. Oxby had led the company’s new leadership team since Swiss investor Palmarium acquired Lebara in September 2017.

Singaporean MVNO Circles.Life is on course to win a 5% share of Singapore’s post-paid market by end-2018, Rameez Ansar, the company’s chief executive and co-founder, has informed the Business Times. Citing 3Q18 data from the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) the news site notes that this figure is equivalent to an approximate user base of 264,600. Going forward, Circles.Life plans to launch MVNO services in two other unspecified countries by the end of Q1 2019.

Chile’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal filed by a group of MVNOs against the nation’s three largest network operators, accusing the trio of anti-competitive practices and creating artificial barriers to entry. Diario Financiero writes that Netline, OPS Movil and TelecoMax filed their appeal with the apex court after the case was rejected by the Antitrust Tribunal (Tribunal de Defensa de la Libre Competencia, TDLC). The MVNOs claimed that Entel, Movistar and Claro were violating the terms of a previous ruling by failing to provide access to facilities and options to resell mobile plans, but this was dismissed by the Supreme Court on the grounds that the previous decision only requires the MNOs to provide either option, not both. Regarding the creation of artificial barriers to entry, the court said it could not verify the existence of such conditions. According to the paper, Movistar had presented as evidence the success of Virgin Mobile Chile to indicate that MVNOs were capable of operating, regardless of the alleged barriers.

Finally, US-based IoT firm KORE has announced that it has executed a definitive agreement – and simultaneously closed the acquisition of – ASPIDER-NGI, a Dutch provider of mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE), IoT and embedded SIM (eSIM) solutions. KORE notes that the acquisition significantly expands its capabilities, enabling it to deliver managed connectivity services and solutions to its customers.

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Chile, Netherlands, Singapore, Circles.Life, KORE NL (incl. former ASPIDER-NGI MVNE), Lebara Group, Netline, VIEO

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