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

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24 Feb 2020

Spanish alternative operator Grupo MASMOVIL has added yet another MVNO to its stable, via the takeover of Galicia-based Oceans. According to widespread press reports, the smaller company commenced bankruptcy proceedings back in 2018, allowing MASMOVIL to pay a nominal fee of EUR1 (USD1.1) for the stricken company’s assets – on the proviso that it inherited its debts. However, the precise timing and the nature of the transaction remain unclear, with the company’s website noting: ‘Oceans is a registered trademark of Xfera Moviles, owned by Grupo MASMOVIL’, suggesting the takeover closed some time ago (note: Xfera is the legal name of the group’s Yoigo cellular business). According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, MASMOVIL – which originated as an MVNO – has previously completed the acquisitions of domestic MVNOs LlamaYA Movil, Pepephone, Lebara Spain and HiTS Mobile.

Italian mobile operator Wind Tre – which was established in December 2016 following the merger of Wind Telecomunicazioni and 3 Italia – has unveiled a new discount-priced sub-brand named Very Mobile, as it seeks to better compete with the ho and Kena Mobile sub-brands utilised by Vodafone Italy and TIM, respectively. The first 20,000 subscribers to sign up to the Very Mobile service are eligible for a EUR4.99 introductory offer, which comprises unlimited voice and SMS and 30GB of data.

Romania’s DIGI Communications has reported that its Spanish MVNO DIGI Mobil ended 31 December 2019 with 1.894 million subscribers, up from 1.343 million year-on-year. The virtual operator targets the Romanian diaspora in Spain, which is understood to represent almost 20% of the country’s foreign population. The Spanish unit also claimed 81,000 fixed broadband customers and 31,000 fixed voice subscribers, via its new fibre service, which leverages a wholesale deal with Telefonica Espana. The Italian DIGI Mobil MVNO unit, meanwhile, grew its customer base from 195,000 in 4Q18 to 242,000 by the end of 4Q19.

Australia’s Vocus Group has reported that its domestic MVNO user base climbed to 193,000 by 31 December 2019, up from 181,000 one year earlier. The company observed: ‘Mobile services increased by 7%, mainly driven by Dodo [a sub-brand], compared to the prior period, however this was offset by declining ARPU due to changes in mix following the launch of new lower-priced SIM-only entry-level product offerings.’ The group’s New Zealand-based subsidiary, meanwhile, saw its MVNO subscriber base increase to 39,000, up from 26,000 in the year-ago period.

Over in the US, new MVNO Altice Mobile claimed 69,000 MVNO subscribers at 31 December 2019, after posting net adds of 54,000 in the fourth quarter. Altice USA reported that the new unit generated revenue of USD18 million in 4Q19, and already serves 1.6% of the company’s broadband customer base. Altice noted: ‘The company is in the process of expanding its device line-up and omni-channel presence to support further growth.’ The MVNO launched on 5 September 2019, over the Sprint network.

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