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

11 Mar 2019

VIEO, the holding company which owns multi-country MVNO Lebara Group, has reported consolidated revenues of EUR123.0 million (USD138.1 million) for the three months ended 31 December 2018, down 11% year-on-year. In operational terms, Lebara accounted for 2.3 million subscribers at end-2018, down 90,000 quarter-on-quarter on a like-for-like basis. (Note: this figure excludes Lebara Spain, which was sold to Grupo MASMOVIL in 3Q18, removing 423,000 customers from the group total.) Lebara Germany was particularly hard hit in 2018, with new registration requirements for SIM card owners – including ID checks – causing its user base to plummet 17% over the twelve-month period. In another development of note, during the quarter Lebara Netherlands renewed its MNO agreement with KPN, extending its network access to 2021. Three further negotiations in separate markets are expected to conclude during the first half of 2019, the group adds.

Australian MVNO amaysim has reported that its mobile user base increased 3.9% in the twelve months ended 31 December 2017, from to 1.127 million to 1.171 million. The firm reported net revenue of AUD263.0 million (USD185.2 million) for the period under review, alongside gross profit of AUD79.0 million and underlying EBITDA of AUD29.2 million.

France’s La Poste Mobile – a joint venture between Le Groupe La Poste (51%) and SFR (49%) – has reported that its subscriber base reached 1.5 million customers at 31 December 2018, an increase of 10.3% on an annualised basis. Of the 616,000 new customers added by the MVNO, 512,000 were said to be ‘new subscribers’.

According to the Financial Tribune, Iran Electronics Industries (Sairan) has signed an agreement with Tehran-based ISP HiWeb to establish an MVNO. Sairan will have a 70% stake in the JV, which will target the M2M sector, with a particular focus on smart meters. The agreement is said to be valid for five years and is renewable. As previously reported by MVNO Monday, HiWeb was in the first wave of MVNOs provisionally authorised by the Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) back in July 2016.

Taiwanese tech vendor ASUS will launch an MVNO called ZenSIM in Japan on 15 March in association with local ISP/MVNO IIJ. According to PhoneRadar, the MVNO utilises the NTT DOCOMO network for connectivity.

Costa Rican MVNO fullmovil, which was launched by state-backed Radiografica Costarricense (RACSA) in September 2011, will shut down on 1 April, the parent company has confirmed. The MVNO’s decision to exit the market was authorised by the Superintendency of Telecommunications (Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones, Sutel) on 6 February. fullmovil is the second Costa Rican MVNO to call it quits this year, following Tuyo Movil, which stopped signing up new users on 15 January, ahead of a 15 April shutdown.

German sub-brand Congstar has announced that its 4.5 million mobile subscribers will transfer to parent company Telekom Deutschland from 1 April 2019, due to a change in business model. The companies note that the switch is primarily a ‘legal change’ and Congstar will remain a ‘company within a company’ and continue to be managed independently.

Hungarian MVNO Netfone will switch networks – from Vodafone Hungary to Magyar Telekom – in May this year, local site HWSW reports, without providing any additional details. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Netfone first launched back in July 2010.

Finally, UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has today issued a Confirmation Decision to Lycamobile UK under Regulation 4A of the Mobile Roaming (European Communities) Regulations 2007 for contraventions of Articles 6a, 6b and 6e of the Roaming Regulation and Article 4 of the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/2286 (CIR). Ofcom notes that Lycamobile failed to comply with the roaming regulations by:

· applying a surcharge and/or a general charge for roaming in the EEA (European Economic Area);

· applying fair use data roaming limits that were lower than the minimum permitted; and

· applying surcharges for EEA roaming that were higher than the maximum permitted.

The 8 March decision brings an end to a case opened on 20 October 2017.

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