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

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1 Jul 2019

Supermarket chain Lidl Switzerland has joined forces with Salt to enter the Swiss mobile market, via Lidl Connect. The new ‘price sensitive’ service went live on 26 June, on a pre-paid and post-paid basis. Georg Kroll, CEO of Lidl Switzerland, commented: ‘After ten years of successful growth, we are today offering our customers something absolutely new: the first Swiss mobile phone subscription from the discount segment. We are proud to make this best value for money proposition available to Lidl customers.’

Elsewhere in Western Europe, Nuts Groep (Dutch for ‘Utility Group’) has acquired local MVNO Robin Mobile from investment firm Ramphastos Investments and Wilfred Rottier, the founder and CEO of Robin Mobile. The acquisition is in line with Nuts Groep’s strategy to broaden its product and service portfolio. Via Budget Energie and NLE, Nuts Groep currently has around 700,000 energy customers in the Netherlands, and more than 100,000 customers in Belgium through its Elegant business. Financial details of the transaction have not been disclosed.

Greek fixed voice and broadband operator Forthnet has inked a deal with Vodafone Greece which will allow it to launch MVNO services from the first quarter of 2020. The initial contract will run for four years, the telco notes. Forthnet will seek to target its existing subscriber base, which comprises more than half a million customers, of which 40,000 are B2B clients.

Further afield, Singapore has a new MVNO, in the form of Grid Mobile. The new virtual operator – a joint venture between Singtel and ST Telemedia – seeks to target millennials and will employ a points-based rewards system to encourage customer loyalty. Mohamad Rizal, a senior director at Grid Mobile, commented: ‘Even with the recent abundance in mobile plan options, we realised there is still one major missing piece – how to integrate mobile plans into a consumer’s actual lifestyle, and make it both useful and fun for the millennial consumer.’

Omantel has acquired a 40% stake in local MVNO group Majan Telecommunication (Renna Mobile) for OMR5 million (USD13 million). The MVNO, which serves around 350,000 customers under the Renna brand, launched a second brand, Red Bull Mobile Oman, in April this year. In a statement, Omantel said: ‘The transaction is underpinned by a vision of both the parties to chart a course of robust growth for both entities who have a long history of mutually beneficial growth and collaboration … This transaction is expected to take this collaboration to newer heights and long-term value creation to their shareholders and subscribers.’

St Petersburg-based ISP SkyNet has become the latest Russian company to sign an MVNO contract with Tele2 Russia, ComNews reports. The ISP is understood to be one of the five largest broadband providers in the city, serving around 100,000 households. For its part, Tele2 now supports more than 20 MVNOs in Russia, with virtual operators accounting for around two million subscribers.

Tuenti Ecuador – a sub-brand of Movistar Ecuador – has confirmed that it currently serves 800,000 subscribers. Edgar Pinos, the company’s marketing manager, told Expreso that the unit is on course to reach the one million subscriber milestone by the end of this year.

Finally, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is in the process of hiring a consultant to prepare a new licensing regime, with the introduction of MVNOs said to be one of the country’s main priorities. The new consultant will be responsible for preparing a framework for MVNOs in accordance with policy guidelines and best international practices.

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