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

15 Jun 2020

Cox Communications is expected to be the next US cableco to enter the MVNO space, following in the footsteps of Charter Communications (Spectrum Mobile), Comcast (Xfinity Mobile) and Altice USA. Light Reading, which cites several sources familiar with the matter, reports that while a wholesale agreement has yet to be signed, behind-the-scenes preparations are gathering pace. TeleGeography notes that Cox has experienced a number of ‘false starts’ in the US wireless market, dating back to the 1990s. These include multiple network rollout attempts and an MVNO with Sprint Nextel, which was active between 2008 and 2011.

Mexico has a new MVNO called Diri, which seeks to tempt users with its unlimited data propositions. According to Xataka.com.mx, the newcomer uses the open access Red Compartida 700MHz wholesale network, as it seeks to extend fixed broadband infrastructure to parts of the country not yet covered by the country’s private operators. As per its last announcement in March, Red Compartida now covers more than 57 million people nationwide.

Dry Company do Brasil, which has helped to launch around a dozen MVNOs affiliated with Brazilian football teams, has unveiled a new virtual operator, in the form of CARAS Chip. The new player will utilise the TIM Brasil network and target readers of the CARAS celebrity magazine.

Spusu Italia, the new MVNO owned by Austrian firm Mass Response, is poised to launch in the coming weeks, after postponing its planned 1Q20 introduction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As previously reported by MVNO Monday, in April 2019 Mass Response signed a wholesale contract with Italian provider Wind Tre and was later awarded one million numbers with the ‘3780’ prefix by the Ministry of Economic Development.

Stockholm-based M2M and broadband specialist Th1ng has introduced a range of pre-packaged 4G SIM cards aimed at customers ‘who use a predictable amount of data every month’. While the network partner has not been disclosed, TeleGeography notes that Th1ng entered into a wide-ranging partnership with Telenor Sweden in November last year.

Over in Japan, a government dispute settlement panel has concluded that the wholesale fee charged to Japan Communications Inc (JCI) by NTT DOCOMO has been fixed for too long, despite reduced operating costs, and should be lowered. A JCI official told Mainichi.jp: ‘High call charges have limited the market’s growth, but we’ll be able to provide monthly mobile plans at around a 40% lower rate compared with major mobile carriers if the access charges are lowered.’

Finally, digital Irish sub-brand GoMo – which was launched by eir in October 2019 – has reached the 200,000-subscriber milestone, less than six months after signing up 100,000 users. In January, GoMo replaced its introductory EUR9.99 (USD11.11) per month ‘lifetime’ subscription offer with a EUR12.99 lifetime package. Industry insiders have suggested that the cut-price GoMo service was the brainchild of Xavier Niel – the French billionaire who seized control of eir back in April 2018. The tycoon has enjoyed significant success by slashing mobile tariffs and triggering price wars through Free in France and Iliad in Italy.

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TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database is now home to the telecoms industry’s fastest-growing collection of MVNO data, covering more than 90 countries and 1,000 virtual operators. If you would like to find out more, please email sales@telegeography.com

Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Sweden, United States, CARAS Chip, Cox Communications, Diri, Dry Company do Brasil (MVNE), GoMo (Ireland), Japan Communications Inc. (JCI), Spusu (Italy), Th1ng