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

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3 Aug 2020

Saudi Arabia’s Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has extended the deadline for MVNO applications until 11 November 2020 as a result of ‘challenges and obstacles’ caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The licensing process – which seeks to identify two candidates for new MVNO concessions – was launched in January 2020 with an initial deadline in May, although this was subsequently extended to 10 August 2020.

According to the New Straits Times, Malaysia’s largest MVNO XOX Mobile has been approached by one of China’s incumbent mobile operators which seeks to invest MYR10 billion (USD2.4 billion) in the company and gain a foothold in the country. XOX CEO Ng Kok Hen declined to name the company but noted: ‘We are waiting for the proposal and will make the appropriate announcement soon. 5G is a direction we are moving into to diversify our revenue stream. If the deal goes through, the investment will be spread out over five to six years and the Chinese group will develop the infrastructure.’ Sources with knowledge on the matter have indicated that the deal is being brokered by a China-based venture capitalist.

Peru’s Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC) has issued Fibertel with a 20-year MVNO licence. The telco currently offers B2B-focused services and dark fibre access over its nationwide fibre-optic network. In other Peruvian news, TeleSemana reports that the watchdog has also issued MVNO licences to Flash Servicios and Intermax.

Latin American supermarket chain Walmart de Mexico y Centroamerica, which introduced a new pre-paid MVNO in Mexico under the Bodega Aurrera Internet y Telefonia (BAIT) brand in June has revealed that it has already signed up 110,000 users. To date, the service has been made available at 705 stores across 24 states.

US cable giant Comcast Corporation has reported that its Xfinity Mobile MVNO ended 30 June 2020 with 2.393 million subscribers, up from 1.586 million one year earlier. Sticking with the US cable sector, Altice USA-backed Altice Mobile has signed up more than 140,000 mobile lines since its commercial MVNO launch in September 2019, equivalent to net adds of 34,000 in Q2 2020. The MVNO generated revenue of USD19.9 million for the quarter.

Dutch MVNO Youfone has unveiled plans to enter the B2B market, via the takeover of business telecoms provider Datri. Valentijn Rensing, CEO of Youfone, commented: ‘Given the recent developments in which a number of business service providers left the market, we saw great opportunities for Youfone. With Youfone’s telecom and e-commerce expertise and Datri’s specialist knowledge of managed services, we offer the business customer many synergy benefits.’

Polish MVNO Mobile Vikings faces an uncertain future, with the company’s management team warning that there is ‘uncertainty regarding the company’s ability to continue as a going concern in the foreseeable future’. Local news site GSMonline.pl notes that Mobile Vikings generated a net loss of PLN1.797 million in the twelve months ended 31 December 2019, although its revenues increased from PLN13.7 million in 2018 to PLN17.7 million in 2019. The MVNO’s user base stood at 56,000 at end-June 2020.

Over in Japan, Shizuoka-based Tokai Holdings has reported that its low-cost LIBMO MVNO ended June 2020 with 50,000 subscribers. Fixed broadband subscribers, meanwhile, reached 711,000.

AT&T Communications has announced that customers using its Cricket Wireless sub-brand will be able to activate 5G services on the Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G from 21 August.

Finally, Australian telco Optus has announced that it has made its 5G Home Broadband platform available to its wholesale post-paid partners. Optus says that its ‘plug and play’ fixed-wireless solution enables users to transform their home broadband experience in a few easy steps, without the need for a technician or professional installation. Optus currently has more than 860 5G sites; post-paid MVNO customers include: Circles.Life, iPrimus, Acurus, Bendigo Telco, BTB, Commander, Moose Mobile, Southern Phone, SpinTel, Dodo, Vaya and 2SG.

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