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

29 Jul 2019

Spanish alternative operator Grupo MASMOVIL – which has previously completed the acquisitions of local MVNOs LlamaYA Movil, Pepephone and Lebara Spain – has reportedly lined up a deal for another virtual operator, HiTS Mobile. According to unconfirmed local press reports, HiTS has around 100,000 subscribers. TeleGeography notes that HiTS has been owned by Valencia-based Carrier-E Mobile since 2014. The unit was acquired from Kuwaiti firm HiTS Telecom, which itself bought the company from Metrored Movil in 2008.

Brazilian MVNO Veek shut down on Thursday 25 July, Mobile Time reports, after experiencing ‘a number of technical and operational misalignments initiated by recharge issues’. The report points to a dispute with Surf Telecom, Veek’s mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) partner, and says that the MVNO’s dwindling user base will be transferred to Geek, a rival MVNO founded by evangelical virtual operator GospelCel.

Sticking with Brazil, Cruzeiro Esporte Clube, one of the biggest Brazilian multisport clubs – and best known for its top-tier football team – has launched an MVNO in association with Dry Company do Brasil. Branded Cruzeiro Celular, the pre-paid provider pledges to offer users ‘uninterrupted internet’ and unlimited WhatsApp access. SIM cards are expected to be on sale by mid-August.

The fast-growing Singaporean MVNO sector has witnessed the launch of another new player, in the form of VIVIFI. The newcomer notes that it prepared for its introduction by ‘doing extensive research on data consumption patterns’ and offers a ‘non-contract shareable mobile plan’ under the ‘VIVIFI Share’ banner. VIVIFI is the brand of ICYMI Pte Ltd, which has obtained a service-based operator licence from the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA).

UK satellite TV provider/ISP-turned MVNO Sky has confirmed that it will launch 5G services in six cities from November 2019, shortly after its network host, O2 UK, which intends to go live with 5G in October this year. The initial coverage locations are London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Leeds and Slough. Going forward, the rollout is planned to reach 20 towns and cities before the end of 2019, and a total of 50 by the end of 2020.

Over in the US, Altice USA has confirmed to Light Reading that it is offering its new Altice Mobile-branded wireless service to its employees, in what appears to be a live MVNO trial. A statement provided to the tech news site read: ‘We recently began offering Altice Mobile to our employees as part of an exclusive employee-only offer. We remain on track to launch Altice Mobile to consumers this summer, with details on consumer plans and pricing to be made available at that time.’ TeleGeography notes that Altice inked a Full MVNO agreement with Sprint back in November 2017.

Finally, also in the US, a number of well-known sub-brands are poised to change hands as part of a deal designed to secure regulatory approval for the long-running merger between T-Mobile US and Sprint. Satellite TV giant DISH has agreed to buy pre-paid businesses including Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile (but excluding the Assurance ‘Lifeline’ unit) in a deal valued at approximately USD1.4 billion. These brands serve approximately 9.3 million customers in total. When including additional spectrum assets, the total value of the deal increases to USD5 billion.

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Brazil, Singapore, Spain, United Kingdom, United States, Altice USA (Optimum), Boost Mobile, Cruzeiro Celular (Cruzeiro Esporte Clube), EUTV (Surf Telecom), GospelCel, Grupo MASMOVIL (incl. Yoigo), HiTS Mobile Espana, Sky, Veek, Virgin Mobile USA, ViViFi