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

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14 Dec 2020

Belgian telco Proximus has announced that it has signed a definitive agreement with DPG Media to acquire Mobile Vikings, which also includes the JIM Mobile brand. The transaction is valued at EUR130 million (USD157.4 million). Founded in 2007, Mobile Vikings targets the data-hungry youth segment. Together, Mobile Vikings and JIM Mobile serve around 335,000 customers. Proximus says that it will preserve the ‘essential brand identity’ of Mobile Vikings and will continue to offer its products and services ‘under the same conditions and name’. In full-year 2020 Mobile Vikings is expected to generate EUR50 million in revenue and EBITDA of EUR15 million. Completion of the deal is subject to the approval of the Belgian Competition Authority, although Proximus expects to close the transaction in 2021.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) will require successful bidders in the country’s 2021 spectrum auction to support a minimum of three black-controlled (51% ownership) MVNOs each, despite criticism of the idea from industry players. The watchdog defended its stance in an official ‘Reasons Document’ published on 4 December 2020, explaining: ‘The Authority is mandated, amongst other functions, to promote transformation in the ICT sector. Furthermore, the Authority is of view that there are mechanisms that promote transformation in the sector by encouraging Individual Electronic Communications Network Services (I-ECNS) licensees to support the uptake and the provision of the MVNOs … It is also the Authority’s view that requiring the industry to support MVNOs will build a potential market for MVNOs.’

Over in Russia integrated B2B communications provider MCN Telecom has branched out into the consumer segment – despite the recent collapse of its mooted partnership with financially-stricken B2C player DANYCOM.

Brazilian football club Botafogo de Futebol e Regatas has launched its Botafogo Celular MVNO in association with Dry Company do Brasil. The MVNE has previously helped to launch multiple football club-affiliated MVNOs, including the likes of Chip do Vascao (CR Vasco da Gama), Cruzeiro Celular (Cruzeiro Esporte Clube), Esquadrao Celular (Esporte Clube Bahia), Sao Paulo Celular (Sao Paulo FC) and Sport Cel (Sport Club do Recife). All Dry-affiliated MVNOs utilise the TIM Brasil network.

Finally, on 3 December 2020, the Portuguese Competition Authority (Autoridade da Concorrencia, AdC) notified Altice Europe-backed MEO of its decision to impose upon it a fine of EUR84 million for fixing the prices of mobile and fixed line services with cableco/MVNO Nowo. Announcing the fine, the watchdog stated: ‘The cartel was in force at least between early January and the end of November 2018, when the AdC carried out unannounced inspections at both companies’ premises.’ Altice has now responded with the following statement: ‘MEO fully disagrees with the AdC’s unexpected decision which once more demonstrates the recent unfavourable telecom market conditions in Portugal. Accordingly, MEO will file an appeal against the decision before the Competition, Supervision and Regulation Court to request the decision to be annulled and to be acquitted of all charges.’

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