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

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28 Sep 2020

Poland has a new MVNO in the form of Heroo Mobile, which has launched over the T-Mobile Polska network. Pitched as ‘the first mobile network designed with the safety of your child in mind’, the newcomer targets the parents of young children with content filters, monitored billing and safety alerts.

Grupo MASMOVIL will enable 5G access for subscribers of its Basque-focused Guuk sub-brand from 1 October. 5G connectivity will initially be available on a trial basis in Bilbao, Vitoria and San Sebastian. Guuk launched in July this year and is 70/30 owned by MASMOVIL and Dominion. MASMOVIL previously launched 5G in 15 cities via its Yoigo brand earlier this month.

US investor Yonder Media Mobile has relaunched Mexican MVNO YO over the open access Red Compartida network. Previously, in August 2019 the New York City-based company announced that it had reached an agreement to acquire Weex Mobile (weex). The status of the legacy weex operation remains unclear; the original MVNO operated over the Movistar Mexico network.

Toronto-based would-be MVNO dotmobile has announced its first network wholesale agreement, with Iristel, which operates mobile services in Canada’s Far North and parts of Quebec under the Ice and Iristel brands. The deal also gives dotmobile access to Iristel’s core network (which supports the latter’s nationwide VoIP services), thereby fulfilling one of three regulatory requirements to achieve Full MVNO status. Samer Bishay, President and CEO of Iristel, commented: ‘Interestingly, with every network we’ve built around the world, we’ve found benefits by allowing competitors on our networks, something Canada’s big telecoms do not understand.’ For its part, dotmobile maintains that it is ‘seeking access to multiple Canadian radio access networks to complement its own cloud-based core network’, although it faces an uphill battle in its dealings with Canada’s notoriously reluctant national MNOs.

Tele2 Russia has confirmed that the number of MVNO subscribers accessing its network passed 4.2 million by the end of June 2020, up 85% year-on-year. A notable 2Q20 launch came courtesy of Ministry of Defence-backed Voentelecom which has introduced Full MVNO services in four regions, namely: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Rostov-on-Don and Kaliningrad. Sergey Volkov, director of MVNO development, commented: ‘Tele2 is planning several more launches this year, including in those market segments where no virtual operator in the world operates. We have set ourselves an ambitious goal: to occupy 10%-12% of the Russian market by 2023.’

Finally, sticking with Russia, online bank Tinkoff, which owns MVNO Tinkoff Mobile, is in takeover talks with internet giant Yandex, it has been reported. Tinkoff parent company TCS Group Holdings and Yandex – often referred to as ‘Russia’s answer to Google’ – have come to an agreement in principle on a cash-and-shares offer that would value London-listed Tinkoff at USD5.48 billion, or USD27.64 a share. The offer represents an 8% premium over Tinkoff’s closing share price on 21 September.

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