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

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7 Sep 2020

amaysim, Australia’s largest MVNO by subscribers, has announced that it ended 30 June 2020 with a ‘recurring mobile subscriber base’ of 830,000, alongside 350,000 ‘As You Go’ (i.e. pre-paid) mobile subscribers, for a total subscriber base of 1.180 million. The MVNO’s user base was inflated after it acquired 115,000 recurring mobile subscribers through the takeovers of Jeenee Mobile in November 2019 and OVO Mobile in May 2020.

In other news, amaysim has entered into a binding share sale agreement (SSA) for the sale of its energy business to AGL Energy Limited for an all-cash consideration of AUD115.0 million (USD83.7 million). Under the SSA, the company will sell all of the issued share capital in Click Energy Group Holdings to AGL. CEO Peter O’Connell commented: ‘Looking ahead, we believe transitioning to a pure-play mobile business will deliver long term shareholder value. We will now be solely focussed on delivering on the growth of mobile as we progress the tender for our wholesale mobile network provider.’ (Note: the MVNO’s current agreement with Optus is due to expire in June 2022, and speculation is rife that Singtel Optus is considering an outright takeover of the company.)

Brazilian regional operators Unifique and MHNET Telecom have jointly launched a new MVNO under the Fique Movel brand. The new player, which piggybacks on the Vivo network, will initially serve Parana, Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina. The owners hope to sign up 200,000 users by end-2021.

A pair of breakthroughs have been reported in Senegal, where the country’s would-be MVNOs have held licences since June 2017. Firstly, Sirius Telecoms Afrique – which has been continuously thwarted in its launch attempts by uncooperative network host Free Senegal – signed a new wholesale contract with Sonatel on 31 August. Meanwhile, fellow licence-holder Origines has formalised its 2017 agreement with Expresso Senegal and hopes to launch under the 2s Mobile brand name. TeleGeography notes that – at the time of its original licence award – Origines was said to be owned by El Hadji Ibrahima Ndiaye – the same man who runs 2s TV, Senegal’s second TV channel.

In the UK Telecom Plus, which trades under the Utility Warehouse banner, has extended its long-running wholesale pact with BT/EE for a further five years, gaining access to EE’s 5G network in the process, as well as enabling it to benefit from the mobile giant’s VoLTE and VoWiFi functionalities. As of 31 March 2020 Utility Warehouse counted 323,901 MVNO subscribers.

Sticking with the UK, Geneva-based international voice specialist Genza has enlisted Pareteum to help it build a new MVNO serving the UK market. Efe Demir, Genza’s International Business Development Director, commented: ‘By leveraging Pareteum’s ready-made voice and SMS offerings, we were able to simultaneously save on overhead and development costs and facilitate an expedited rollout to our UK customer-base.’

In Denmark, TDC unit Nuuday has launched a new sub-brand under the eesy brand name. Digital-only budget operator eesy becomes the third mobile brand managed by Nuuday, following YouSee and Telmore.

Luxembourg-based Join Experience deactivated its MVNO on 1 September, following the conclusion of its merger with Post Telecom on 1 June 2020. The company’s website will remain online until 30 September, but all enquiries should be directed towards Post. The virtual operator, which launched back in January 2014, has been a wholly owned Post Luxembourg subsidiary since 2018.

Finally, Russian Instagram/YouTube personality Azam Khodjaev has teamed up with existing MVNO Next Mobile to launch a new as-yet-unnamed mobile brand. Like Next Mobile, the new player will operate using the Tele2 Russia network. The news was relayed to Vedomosti by Andrey Skopinsky, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Next Mobile, who expects the new service to launch later this month.

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