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

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5 Oct 2020

San Francisco-based PC/smartphone manufacturer Purism has launched its own MVNO for customers who value a privacy-focused service. The MVNO – branded Libre AweSIM – utilises the nationwide T-Mobile US and AT&T Communications networks for connectivity. It offers a USD99 per month unlimited subscription, encompassing calls, texts and data. Purism explains: ‘Major cellular providers are creating unified customer identifiers based on customer account information (name, address, billing information) and unique identifiers on your mobile devices so they can identify users across multiple devices and serve them relevant advertising. Librem AweSIM adds an extra layer of privacy to your customer data to protect you from targeted tracking.’

Sticking with the US, Q Link, a major provider of government-subsidised Lifeline services, has confirmed that it has extended its MVNO offering to Mississippi. Q Link commented: ‘More than one in five Mississippians is in a cycle of poverty, making it the poorest state in the nation. Q Link Wireless serves low-income families so they, too, can thrive during these unprecedented times.’ Q Link’s press release notes that it now has a ‘newly expanded 5G network’, suggesting its long-term wholesale agreement with Sprint now includes access to the T-Mobile US network. Previously, Q Link launched in New York in June this year and Puerto Rico in April. (Note: the Puerto Rican activity appeared to be a relaunch, with Q Link previously active on the island between 2013 and 2018.)

Italian fibre provider Intred has inked an MVNO wholesale deal with Vodafone Italy. The MVNO will go live in 2H21. The telco, which was founded in 1996 by Daniele Peli, claims to have a strong presence in Lombardy, the richest region in Italy, in particular in the Brescia area, where it has a broadband market share of approximately 9%. The company served 34,300 broadband customers as of June 2020. In January-February this year Intred completed the 100% buyout of fellow regional B2B player Qcom.

Over in Brazil, regional fibre player Global Fibra is set to launch an MVNO on 1 December, under the Global Movel name. The service, which will be launched over the Telefonica Brasil (Vivo) network, will use Telecall as an MVNE. The service will initially target Global Fibra’s existing user base in Sao Paulo.

Belgian cableco VOO will launch a new youth-focused sub-brand called Zuny on 6 October. While precise details about the product remain unclear, the service will likely use the Telenet network, as used by VOO’s existing MVNO.

Singaporean fibre provider-turned-MVNO MyRepublic, which entered the virtual operator segment in June 2018 over the StarHub network, has added wholesale connectivity via M1. The new partnership has been trialled since April this year and went live last month, MyRepubic notes, adding that the deal with M1 will allow it to offer ‘an enhanced suite of mobile services’.

Polish altco Telestrada, which offers MVNO services under the Lajt Mobile brand, announced on 28 September that it has commenced a strategic review. Options on the table include: acquiring a financial or strategic partner; acquiring another entity or part of an enterprise; and selling or merging its subsidiaries. TeleGeography notes that Lajt Mobile claimed 72,615 subscribers at the end of 2019.

Finally, UK-based B2B provider Radius Connect, which was created this summer following the takeovers of Pure Telecom, Trinity Maxwell and Reliance Networks, has swooped for Belfast-based Connect Total Communications, a Vodafone One Net reseller. Radius notes that the acquisition represents its sixth telecoms takeover in the last two years and ‘substantially increases its mobile base as well as its geographical footprint’. In July Radius claimed a subscriber base of over 70,000 customers across mobile and fixed line services.

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Belgium, Brazil, Italy, Poland, Singapore, United Kingdom, United States, Global Fibra (incl. Global Movel), Intred, MyRepublic, Purism (Librem AweSIM), Q Link Wireless, Q Link Wireless (PR), Radius Connect, Telestrada (incl. Lajt Mobile), Zuny