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

12 Aug 2019

New York-based Yonder Media Mobile (YMM) has reached an agreement to acquire Weex Mobile, a millennial-centric MVNO in Mexico, which launched back in 2015. The transaction is expected to close on or before 1 October 2019 and YMM intends to rebrand Weex Mobile to Yo and relaunch in Mexico in early 2020. A self-styled ‘mobile virtual experience provider (MVXP)’, Yonder has stated that its mission is to ‘democratise access to premium, localised content and world-class services though an advanced technical platform that has been four years in the making’. As such, the acquisition of Weex Mobile accelerates Yonder’s route to market. By converting Weex Mobile customers to YMM’s MVXP model, the company seeks to move users up the value chain and drive a revaluation of the business. The Fintech division of Weex that operates the ‘Weex Wallet’ service is not included in the agreement and will continue to operate independently of YMM. Adam Kidron, YMM’s founder and CEO, commented: ‘This is an exciting moment for YMM. By acquiring Weex Mobile, we gain overnight access to strong local management of more than 100,000 millennial users, and technical integration with one of Mexico’s leading established mobile network operators.’

Malaysian MVNO XOX Mobile has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Thailand’s state-owned telco TOT which will see the two parties explore the Thai MVNO market. In a bourse filing, XOX said the MoU is expected to make positive contribution to the group’s earnings per share and net assets per share should it be subsequently commercialised. In its domestic market, XOX piggybacks on the Celcom network and claims to preside over one million-strong user base.

Over in Japan, ISP-turned-MVNO IIJ has reported that its IIJmio consumer MVNO subscriber base reached 1.074 million at 30 June 2019, up from 1.036 million one year earlier. In the enterprise sector, meanwhile, IIJ reported that its B2B ‘Mobile MVNO Platform Service’ accounted for 1.072 million subscribers at the same date, up from 887,026 year-on-year. Eijiro Katsu, President and COO of IIJ, commented: ‘As for Full MVNO service developments, we started to provide Soft SIM and consumer eSIM services, allowing easy transition between mobile carriers. We plan to launch eSIM services for enterprises, targeting IoT usage, as we believe eSIM will be a critical element in advancing IoT.’

Russian fixed IP telephony and converged communications provider MCN Telecom – which activated its Light MVNO in Moscow, St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Krasnodar, Novosibirsk and Rostov-on-Don in December 2017 – has announced that it is another step closer to becoming a Full MVNO, after taking receipt of its own mobile network code (MNC), ‘37’. In a press release, MCN noted that the MNC will allow it to establish ‘a more harmonious relationship with the host operator’, Tele2 Russia.

Finally, also in Russia, Vedomosti reports that bank-based MVNO SberMobile had signed up 85,900 subscribers as of end-December 2018. Meanwhile, an unverified report from Telecom Daily cites Lev Khasis, deputy chairman of the board at parent company Sberbank, as saying that this figure had increased to 400,000 as of July 2019.

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