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

25 Nov 2019

Self-styled ‘MVNO Factory’ Tele2 Russia has unveiled its newest MVNO partner, satellite navigation system GLONASS. The agreement is understood to focus on the M2M sector and will support GLONASS’s work with emergency response systems and cargo monitoring services. Sergey Volkov, Tele2’s director of development for virtual operators and partnerships, commented: ‘Dozens of MVNOs are already successfully operating on our network … A joint project with GLONASS is a new stage in [our] development … as we enter the IoT segment and conclude a contract with another major state customer.’

West Yorkshire-based B2B solutions provider Abzorb has announced that it will launch an MVNO in partnership with BT Wholesale and European mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) Transatel. The new service will operate under the abZ brand name. Abzorb says it hopes to become the first business mobile provider to offer ‘as close to real-time network and customer monitoring as is physically possible for reseller partners’. Further, the agreement with Transatel will allow Abzorb to enable businesses to brand the EE-powered MVNO service under their own names. Nick Wootten, MVNO Director at BT Wholesale, commented: ‘It’s really exciting to see abZ launch to market, with an innovative solution that differentiates Abzorb from other channel partners.’

Elsewhere in the UK reseller space, High Wycombe-based Olive Communications has signed a five-year deal with Vodafone UK that will see it broaden its portfolio of products to include 5G, IoT, fixed line and SD WAN services, as it looks to focus more on converged services. It is hoped that the deal will generate more than GBP125 million (USD160.4 million) in revenue over the course of the five years. Olive passed the 150,000 connections milestone in January this year.

Belgian cableco VOO has confirmed that it currently serves 260,000 active MVNO subscribers, compared to just 60,000 in 2016. VOO’s initial five-year wholesale agreement was with Orange Belgium, but that deal expired in December 2018. A new contract with Telenet was agreed in February 2018 and runs until 31 December 2023. In March 2018 VOO enlisted Chinese vendor ZTE for the provision of a full virtualised mobile core and digital transformation services, as it seeks to transition from a Light MVNO model to that of a Full MVNO. This process is still ongoing, VOO has confirmed.

Finally, Fonus, which bills itself as ‘the world’s first global carrier’ announced its launch on 20 November. For USD30 per month, the MVNO pledges to offer unlimited data, calls and texts and roaming without additional charges in over 40 countries. Further, 5G speeds are supported in ‘certain territories’. The international MVNO was founded in May 2019 and has raised over USD750,000 from investors to date. The international MVNO says it has ‘contractual relationships with multiple network providers worldwide’. According to Canadian tech site Mobile Syrup, the start-up is owned by Canadian entrepreneur Simon Tian.

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Belgium, Canada, Russia, United Kingdom, United States, Abzorb (abZ), BT Wholesale, Fonus, GLONASS-TM, Olive Communications, Tele2 Russia, Transatel Group, VOO