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

6 Jan 2020

Russia has a new MVNO in the form of Next Mobile, which is understood to be backed by Armen Meruzhanovich Sargsyan’s S8 Capital investment firm. Testing of the self-styled ‘premium MVNO’ began in April 2019 and the service went live in December. According to ComNews, Next Mobile has been awarded numbering resources spanning 500,000 numbers, which use the 900, 958 and 999 prefixes. Daria Kolesnikova – the spokesperson for host network Tele2 Russia – told ComNews: ‘As far as we know, Next Mobile plans to focus its services on the premium segment. We consider the idea quite promising, since this niche is currently free. Next Mobile can create a top-end product with quality service, a loyalty programme and bonuses for a wealthy audience.’ The newcomer hopes to sign up ‘tens of thousands of subscribers’ by end-2020.

Sticking with eastern Europe, Ukrtelecom has announced that it plans to ‘virtualise’ its TriMob mobile unit and only retain cellular frequencies in Kiev. According to a brief press release, services will be unaffected and offered via the network of a partner (later confirmed on the TriMob website as being existing domestic network roaming partner Vodafone Ukraine [VF Ukraine]). Industry insiders have suggested that the shift in strategy has been necessitated as a result of the December 2020 expiry date of TriMob’s 2100MHz W-CDMA licence. Ukrtelecom claims that it will continue its partnership with its hosted MVNO Lycamobile Ukraine, users of which also have access to Vodafone Ukraine roaming services.

Spanish football club Real Murcia has launched a new MVNO service called Movilgrana, which reportedly runs on the Grupo MASMOVIL (Yoigo) and Orange Espana networks. According to the Movilgrana website, the newcomer also offers fibre-optic connectivity.

Meanwhile, at end-2019 a total of nine Brazilian football clubs boasted operational MVNOs, after the launch of Chip do Vascao, a virtual operator affiliated with Rio de Janeiro-based CR Vasco da Gama. Mobile Time reports that all MVNOs have been launched in association with Dry Company do Brasil and use the TIM Brasil network. Other clubs with MVNOs include Bahia, Ceara, Cruzeiro, Fortaleza, Goias, Internacional, Sao Paulo and Sport, while Santos and Fluminese are said to be preparing launches.

Finally, Texas-based Wytec International has announced that it is nearing completion of a ‘multi-test trial’ in the Central Business District (CBD) of Columbus, Ohio with a view to securing its first MVNO agreement in March 2020. Since the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) awarded Wytec its small cell patent known as the Light-Pole Node (LPN-16) in September 2017, the company has been working towards delivering a solution capable of ‘supporting a robust, neutral host dense wireless network’, utilising utility poles as its distribution access in American cities. When the service goes live, Wytec says it will target cable operators that are keen to enter the MVNO space.

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