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

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6 Jul 2020

US satellite TV giant DISH Network completed the USD1.4 billion acquisition of pre-paid sub-brand Boost Mobile on 1 July, inheriting more than nine million customers. The company will continue to utilise the Boost brand – which was first introduced in June 2001 – and has unveiled the new logo. Boost has begun, and will continue, to migrate customers with a compatible device from the Sprint network onto the T-Mobile US network, where it says customers will receive a stronger signal, faster speeds and enhanced coverage. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Boost launched in June 2001 as a joint venture with Nextel Communications. Nextel became the sole owner of Boost in 2003 and when Sprint acquired Nextel in 2005 the MVNO became a Sprint subsidiary.

Lebara Limited has filed its annual financial statements for the twelve months ended 31 December 2019 with Companies House in the UK. (Note: Lebara Limited is a subsidiary of Netherlands-based Lebara Mobile Group, which operates the group’s Danish, German and Dutch units.) Turnover decreased from EUR334.7 million (USD376.3 million) in 2018 to EUR316.0 million in 2019, while annual profit increased from EUR6.9 million to EUR8.4 million. Of the three businesses included in the report Germany ended 2019 with 695,000 subscribers, ahead of the Netherlands (691,000) and Denmark (178,000). In a filing dated 29 April this year, Lithium UK Bidco informed Companies House that it had owned 75% or more of Lebara since 9 January. The latest filing clarifies that Lebara’s ultimate parent company is Jersey-registered Lithium Topco Limited.

South Africa has a new MVNO in the form of Sakeng Mobile, which is being launched by the owners of online marketplace Sakeng Emporium. The newcomer – which uses the Cell C network – commenced pilot operations in July 2019 and is targeting August 2020 for a wider commercial launch. According to IT Web, 5,000 customers are currently participating in the pilot project.

Spanish alternative operator Grupo MASMOVIL has launched its new sub-brand, guuk, which has been designed to target the Basque region – a part of the country which is currently dominated by Euskaltel Group. The new brand offers both mobile and fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband connectivity.

Bogota-based Setroc has informed TeleGeography that it has launched Full MVNO services over the Telefonica Colombia (Movistar) network. The newcomer, which was established in 2017, claims to be the country’s first Full MVNO. According to its website, Setroc also acts as a mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE).

In the UK, Crewe-based Radius Payment Solutions has launched a telecoms division following a series of B2B acquisitions. The new unit – Radius Connect – will have a subscriber base of over 70,000 customers across mobile and fixed line services, while the company website notes that it has ‘partnerships with the three main UK business mobile networks – Vodafone, O2 and *EE*’. Ray Ferris, Group Managing Director of Radius Connect, commented: ‘Over the last six months we have integrated three established businesses to create Radius Connect.’ The companies in question are understood to be Pure Telecom, Trinity Maxwell and Reliance Networks.

Over in France, Corse GSM, a distributor partner of SFR, which is based on the island of Corsica, is planning to launch an MVNO using the Orange France network when its existing contract with SFR expires at the end of the year. Corse GSM is part of SOciete COrse de Distribution (SOCODI).

Finally, defunct Singaporean MVNO Zero Mobile – which was stripped of its operating licence on 18 March this year – has confirmed that the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) reinstated the concession on 24 June. In a media briefing, CEO Glenn Mohammed noted that while he believes the IMDA’s reaction was ‘excessive’, he respects the decision. Going forward, the Australian-owned firm intends to ‘review its options and reconnect with its partners to explore the possibility of relaunching its services in Singapore’.

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