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

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19 Oct 2020

T-Mobile Netherlands has agreed to acquire Dutch SIM-only MVNO Simpel for an undisclosed fee. Simpel CEO Jasper de Rooij commented: ‘We have been using T-Mobile’s network for many years and know each other well from this long joint history. We have realised strong growth in the number of customers and consider this the right moment in time to sell. A sale of Simpel to T-Mobile was an obvious decision.’ The proposed acquisition is subject to approval by the Authority for Consumers & Markets (Autoriteit Consument & Markt, ACM). Simpel was founded in 2007 by Jasper de Rooij and has been using the T-Mobile network since 2014. The MVNO boasts one million subscribers.

CUniq UK, the British MVNO backed by China Unicom, has announced that it will be shutting down later this month. The company states: ‘As part of China Unicom (Europe) Operation Limited’s mobile business strategic transformation, we are sorry to inform you that CUniq UK mobile service will be terminated at 23:59 on 31 October 2020. Please be assured that CUniq UK will be operating as usual till the end of 31 October 2020. We wish to thank you for your support in the past years.’ As previously reported by MVNO Monday, CUniq UK was jointly launched by China Unicom Global and Isle of Man-based Manx Telecom in December 2016. The MVNO piggybacks on the O2 UK network.

Euskaltel Group has renegotiated its wholesale agreement with Orange Espana and will be able to offer 5G services from 1 January 2022. Euskaltel notes that the parties will be able to negotiate the advancement of this date when Orange’s rollout is more expansive. The new agreement builds on the mobile/fixed contract signed with Orange on 13 December 2019. As before, the agreement is due to expire in June 2024.

Elsewhere in Europe, Luxembourg-based Telindus will launch 5G services on 23 October, using the new network belonging to its sister company Tango. The ISP will target its existing B2B user base with the new proposition.

Over in the US, Comcast has announced that subscribers using its Xfinity Mobile MVNO are now able to access 5G technology on a nationwide basis. The cable giant made the announcement on 14 October, 24 hours after host provider Verizon Wireless claimed a nationwide 5G footprint. TeleGeography notes that while large parts of the country still lack access to 5G technology, the rollout meets the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) definition of nationwide coverage, which is 200 million people served.

TPG Telecom is set to launch a new digital-only sub-brand called felix in the coming weeks. IT News quotes TPG CEO Inaki Berroeta as saying: ‘Seamless, sustainable and simple is what customers are telling us they want from their telco plan … We’ll announce the felix plan details closer to launch in coming weeks, but we’re committed to making it a simple experience for customers.’ Vodafone Hutchison Australia – which merged with TPG Telecom in July this year – initially registered the felix brand in October last year.

UK-based Cellhire has confirmed that it has built its own core network and has acquired a French Mobile Network Code (MNC) and International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) range as it seeks to launch a Full MVNO proposition. The company says this paves the way for a Q1 2021 market launch, when it ‘will deliver the next evolution of competitive domestic and roaming airtime products’. The MVNO is expected to utilise eSIM technology.

Sprint-based MVNO Tello has provided an update regarding its network transition following its host’s takeover by T-Mobile US. The virtual operator explains: ‘Here at Tello, we are already working intensively to implement the GSM service by the end of 2020 but this will not mean an immediate cut-off for your CDMA-compatible phone. We’re not the pull-the-rug-from-under-your-feet type of people … We will provide at least three months of notice prior to a closure of the Sprint network and then (if you have not already switched over from CDMA phones) provide you information on how you can keep using the Tello service. Older Sprint phones will work up until at least mid-2021 and our great value plans will not be changed.’

Finally, talks over the USD5.48 billion cash-and-share sale of online bank Tinkoff to internet giant Yandex ended late last week. Tinkoff owns domestic MVNO Tinkoff Mobile. An internal email which was seen by Reuters quotes founder Oleg Tinkov as saying: ‘Today I decided to break the possible deal with Yandex.’

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