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

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21 Oct 2019

Norwegian telecoms giant Telenor has revealed plans to launch a digital MVNO in Singapore. The new unit will operate under the OYA brand, and will be run by Red Otter, which is described as ‘an internal start-up’ within the Telenor Group. The key tenets of OYA’s strategy will involve data bundles that never expire, customers paying upfront to avoid bill-shock and great customer service. OYA’s website is up and running, but a scheduled launch date has not yet been disclosed.

Irish telco eir has launched a new digital, SIM-only sub-brand called GoMo. In order to woo customers, the new unit is offering a lifetime EUR9.99 (USD11.2) subscription for the first 100,000 people to sign up to the service. TeleGeography notes that Tesco Mobile Ireland and Virgin Media Ireland are among the handful of Irish virtual operators still in operation; Dixon Carphone’s iD Mobile service shut down in April 2018 after enduring heavy losses and struggling to find a buyer.

Australia’s AGL Energy Limited (AGL) has entered into a conditional agreement to acquire regional telco-turned-MVNO Southern Phone Company (SPC), which serves a total of 100,000 customers nationwide. The offer, if accepted, would see the acquisition of all issued capital of SPC, from its current 35 local council shareholders for AUD27.5 million (USD18.8 million). The proposal is part of AGL’s plans to pursue growth in the convergence of energy and data, and the energy firm intends to maintain SPC’s branding and regional-focused product portfolio. TeleGeography notes that SPC claims to be the largest MVNO serving regional Australia, and offers mobile connectivity using the Optus network.

Dutch telco KPN will discontinue its Solcon Mobile service on 31 December this year, having already ceased selling Solcon-branded mobile products this summer. Subscribers have been advised to switch to KPN’s Simyo sub-brand. TeleGeography notes that rural multi-play operator Solcon was acquired by KPN in June 2017; the MVNO service was previously hosted by T-Mobile Netherlands.

SberMobile, the MVNO launched by Russian banking and financial services firm Sberbank on 26 September 2018, has reportedly reached the 500,000-subscriber mark. The statistic was reported by ComNews, which notes that the MVNO is now active in 50 regions of the country – a figure which is expected to increase to all 67 regions covered by its network host Tele2 Russia in 2020.

Finally, Three UK has agreed what has been described as ‘a long-term, multi-million-pound, strategic partnership’ with mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) Pareteum. The partnership will see Pareteum enabling the launch of new mobile brands and IoT services on Three’s network, using its Pareteum Experience Cloud communications platform. Wholesale subscribers currently account for around 12% of the 11.7 million subscribers on the Three network, and the cellco seeks to position itself as the UK’s number one wholesale partner in the coming years.

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Australia, Ireland, Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, United Kingdom, GoMo (Ireland), Hutchison 3G UK (Three UK), Pareteum, Red Otter (OYA), SberMobile, Solcon, Southern Phone Company