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

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20 Apr 2020

Spanish alternative operator Grupo MASMOVIL is poised to add yet another brand to its growing portfolio, via the proposed takeover of rural telecoms specialist Ahimas (Ahi+). The latter currently provides a full suite of telecoms services – including mobile connectivity, via an MVNO. According to Spanish business daily Expansion, MASMOVIL has exercised a purchase option to acquire all the capital of Ahimas’ parent company Inversiones Locua in a deal valued at EUR130 million (USD141.3 million).

Sticking with Spain, Pareteum Corporation has announced that its European operating subsidiary has entered into a procurement agreement with Vodafone Enabler Espana (LOWI) to provide the Spanish firm with mobile network services. The agreement is a new contract for existing and future services valid until 26 March 2022, with automatic one-year extensions unless terminated earlier. The agreement is expected to result in payments to Pareteum based on the numbers of subscribers added per month.

Gist Mobile has launched its new mobile service targeted at the African diaspora in the UK, Europe and North America. Powered by x-Mobility’s digital ‘AppVNO’ solution, Gist Mobile is targeting the millions of Africans that travel or live outside of the continent, but still have strong links back ‘home’. The company notes that there are an estimated two million people of African origin in the UK alone.

Over in Brazil, Sao Paulo-based fibre operator-turned-B2B MVNO America Net has revealed that it has now entered the mobile virtual network aggregator (MVNA) segment. The telco’s first batch of MVNO clients have been named as Veek, Voa Telecom, Use Telecom, Starnet Telecomunicacoes and TIP Telecom. According to Mobile Time, the company currently serves 40,000 MVNO customers, but expects to increase this total to one million by 2022.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has reportedly approved the new MVNO deal granted to Boost Mobile, the Sprint sub-brand which is being sold to satellite TV giant DISH Network. According to industry journal Broadcasting+Cable, Charles Mathias and Catherine Matraves – the co-directors of the T-Mobile/Sprint Task Force – have informed T-Mobile US that the proposed wholesale agreement is consistent with the FCC’s goals in requiring the spin-off. The article quotes the officials as saying: ‘After a careful review of the submitted materials, we find that your MVNO agreement with DISH is consistent with these principles.’ The sale of Boost, which is valued at USD1.4 billion, was one of the pre-conditions of the recent merger between Sprint and larger rival T-Mobile US. It was agreed in July 2019 alongside a USD3.6 billion sale of 800MHz spectrum. DISH expects to transition from an MVNO to an MNO by 2022.

Unimobile has declared its intention to launch as an MVNO in Slovakia using the ‘0943’ number prefix. To fund the project, Michal Rybarik – the owner of Alternet and the chairman of the Association of Local Internet Providers (ALPI) – expects to incur start-up costs of around EUR1 million. He has yet to agree terms with a wholesale partner, but believes his MVNO could still go live before year-end.

Elsewhere in Eastern Europe, Polish gas distribution company Polska Spolka Gazownictwa (PSG) has issued a tender for the launch of its own MVNO to provide M2M services. PSG aims to grant a four-year contract with an estimated value of PLN1.5 million (USD360,000) covering mobile services on 2G and 4G networks.

French energy provider Mint has reported that its Mint Mobile (formerly Budget Telecom) unit generated revenues of EUR4.5 million in full-year 2019, down 15% year-on-year. The utility firm ended 2019 with 90,000 customers, of which 70,000 used its energy services – suggesting its MVNO user base stood at around 20,000. TeleGeography notes that the MVNO has used the Altice France (SFR) network since 2007.

Finally, UK-based MVNO Truphone has secured GBP30 million (USD37.4 million) in funding from its existing investors to further develop and accelerate its software solutions to the market. This latest round of funding values the company at GBP410 million. Truphone’s press release notes: ‘Having successfully broken even as an MVNO in September 2019, Truphone is focusing sharply on its SIM software business, which is growing rapidly. From provisioning its first eSIM in September 2018, Truphone has now provisioned over four million eSIM profiles globally to consumer and IoT devices, with 20,000 eSIMs being downloaded every day.’

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Brazil, France, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, United Kingdom, United States, (Budget Telecom/Mint) Mint Mobile, Ahimas (Ahi+), Alternet (incl. Unimobile), AmericaNet, Boost Mobile, DISH Network, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Gist Mobile, Grupo MASMOVIL (incl. Yoigo), LOWI, Pareteum, Truphone (UK), Veek, Virgin Mobile USA, Vodafone Enabler Espana, x-Mobility