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

22 Jul 2019

Italy has a new MVNO in the form of Withu, an offshoot of utility firm Europe Energy. The new virtual operator – which piggybacks on the Vodafone Italy network – is currently restricting its proposition to existing electricity and gas customers. Withu also offers fibre-optic connectivity, which is believed to be delivered via Open Fiber’s infrastructure.

Sticking with Italy, Massimiliano Parini, the boss of CoopVoce, has informed Mondo Mobile Web that his company plans to make the transition from a Light MVNO to a Full MVNO in 2020, following the deployment of ‘independent technological infrastructure’. Following the switch, CoopVoce will continue to utilise Telecom Italia (TIM) as its network provider – a relationship which dates back to June 2007.

Polish cableco UPC Polska has belatedly re-launched its MVNO service – almost two years after signing a wholesale contract with Play, in September 2017. Discussing the launch, Robert Redeleanu, CEO of UPC Polska, commented: ‘Launching the mobile offer is a strategic step for us as well as another promise we made to us that we have made to our clients. By introducing mobile services, we become a fully convergent operator providing the best internet and digital entertainment, anytime, anywhere.’

Over in Spain, self-styled ‘collaborative MVNO’ Suop Mobile has added fibre-optic broadband connectivity to its proposition. The virtual operator – which launched back in 2013 – is understood to use its existing mobile network partner Orange Espana for broadband connectivity.

America Movil (AM)-backed TracFone Wireless has reported that its total MVNOuser base dropped 3.1% in the second quarter of 2019, to 21.435 million. The bulk of the losses were attributed to TracFone’s SafeLink unit, which saw its user base plummet 21.4% year-on-year, to 2.568 million. SafeLink is one of a large number of ‘Lifeline’ programme-affiliated US MVNOs that have been hit hard by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) crackdowns in recent years. On a brighter note, the company’s Straight Talk brand grew 3.7% on an annualised basis, to reach 9.329 million. TracFone reported that total revenues for 2Q19 increased 3.9%, to USD2.0 billion.

Finally, MDS Global, the UK-based BSS-as-a-Service provider that is an active presence within the MVNO market, has been acquired by Volaris, an operating unit of Constellation Software. Founded in 1987 as part of Martin Dawes Telecommunications (MDT), a pioneering UK MVNO, MDS Global started as an in-house billing system. When MDT was sold to BT Cellnet in 1999, MDS Global was spun-out as a stand-alone business.

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Italy, Poland, Spain, United Kingdom, United States, Coop Voce, MDS, SafeLink Wireless, Straight Talk, Suop Mobile, TracFone Wireless (incl. Straight Talk, SafeLink), UPC Poland, Withu