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

5 Aug 2019

FRiENDi Mobile Malaysia has announced that it will be terminating its service on 15 August 2019 – and has urged its subscribers to port their numbers to an alternative provider by 9 August in order to avoid losing connectivity. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the MVNO launched in November 2013, over the U Mobile network. The MVNO is owned by Virgin Mobile Middle East and Africa (VMMEA). Sister companies in Oman and Saudi Arabia are continuing to trade as usual, while FRiENDi Jordan suspended its operations back in March 2017, after sustaining ‘continued financial losses’.

Another MVNO that is poised to shut down is Cyta Mobile in Greece, which will be discontinued on 30 September 2019. The move follows the EUR117 million (USD152 million) takeover of Cypriot-owned alternative fixed line and broadband operator Cyta Hellas by Vodafone Greece in July 2018. Cyta Hellas, which launched its Cyta Mobile MVNO service in July 2014, using the network of its soon-to-be parent Vodafone Greece network, represented one of the country’s few notable MVNOs.

Brazil has a new MVNO in the form of Sao Paulo Celular, which is affiliated with football club Sao Paulo FC. As with fellow football-centric MVNO Cruzeiro Celular last month, the new player has been launched in association with Dry Company do Brasil and pledges to offer users unlimited WhatsApp access.

Elsewhere in Latin America, Camara de Cooperativas de Telecomunicaciones (Catel), which represents 34 telecoms cooperatives across Argentina, and was awarded an MVNO concession by the National Agency for Communications (Ente Nacional de Comunicaciones, ENACOM) in December 2017, has confirmed that the regulator has now issued it with numbering resources covering four of the nine provinces it intends to launch in, namely: Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, Cordoba and La Pampa. The number range was authorised via Resolution No. 3054/2019. Catel expects to go live in early-2020, using the Movistar Argentina network.

Over in the US, cable giant Comcast added 181,000 MVNO lines in the second quarter of 2019, to reach 1.586 million mobile customers. Also in the US, Charter Communications added 208,000 Spectrum Mobile users in the second quarter, compared to 176,000 mobile line net additions in the first quarter of 2019. As of 30 June 2019, Charter served a total of 518,000 MVNO customers.

Sticking with the US, Altice USA has confirmed that ‘the network testing phase for Altice Mobile is now complete, demonstrating excellent nationwide coverage, speed and quality’. The commercial launch is said to be ‘on track for this summer’, and Altice notes that its existing mobile partnership with Sprint will be expanded to the New T-Mobile network, inclusive of 5G services. Further, Altice has signed a complementary new nationwide roaming contract with AT&T, ensuring aggregate 99% nationwide coverage when it goes live.

Turning our attentions to Italy, PosteMobile, the MVNO owned by Italian state-owned postal services operator Poste Italiane, increased its mobile user base to 4.4 million at 30 June 2019, up from 4.1 million one year earlier.

Elsewhere in Italy, Noitel has relaunched over the Vodafone Italy network, and now offers its customers 4G access. Launching its MVNO service in 2013, Noitel initially used the network of 3 Italia before moving to TIM subsidiary Noverca two years later.

Another operator that has switched providers in order to offer 4G connectivity is DIGI Mobil Italia, which launched LTE over the TIM network on 29 July 2019. The MVNO is owned by Romanian telco DIGI Communications and targets the Romanian expatriate community in Italy.

Meanwhile, B2B player Welcome Italia – which launched MVNO services over the Telecom Italia network in May 2018 – has selected ADVA to deploy its FSP 3000 and ALM fibre monitoring solution to enable high-capacity enterprise services throughout Italy. The technology partnership will create scalable fibre-optic infrastructure and provide the security and reliability needed for IoT and 5G applications. The fibre network will stretch over 2,500km and connect Welcome Italia’s two main data centres.

Finally, Czech VoIP operator-turned-MVNO FAYN Telecommunications has agreed to smaller player Axfone from 1 September 2019. As part of the deal, FAYN has disclosed that it will be able to switch from the Vodafone Czech Republic network to that of T-Mobile Czech Republic. In addition, FAYN says that it plans to extend its services to neighbouring Slovakia.

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TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database is now home to the telecoms industry’s fastest-growing collection of MVNO data, covering more than 90 countries and 1,000 virtual operators. If you would like to find out more, please email sales@telegeography.com