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

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21 Dec 2020

Erik Dudman Nielsen, the CEO of Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa (VMMEA), has informed that the company is working towards a commercial MVNO launch in Kuwait. The executive commented: ‘Following a few delays due to COVID, we are very excited to announce that, following a call for application in November 2019, we have been awarded a preliminary licence to launch both our Virgin Mobile and FRiENDi mobile brands in Kuwait. We were the first successful MVNO to obtain the preliminary telecommunications licence.’ He also names Bahrain as a future market of interest, while noting that the group has also been approached by unnamed parties in North Africa regarding potential tie-ups.

Russian financial institution Gazprombank has announced the launch of its new MVNO, GPB Mobile. The service went live on 18 December and is initially available in Moscow and the Moscow Region, with SIM cards available at the bank’s branches. In 2021 GPB Mobile will be made available to the bank’s customers in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Kazan and other regions. Network host Tele2 Russia notes that GPB Mobile is one of more than 20 MVNOs currently using its network. Combined, the virtual operators account for a total subscriber base of 4.5 million.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has initiated a consultation regarding its ‘License Framework for the Establishment of MVNOs in Nigeria’, as it seeks to pave the way for the introduction of virtual operators. The NCC wishes to obtain comments from industry stakeholders and the general public on key considerations, which will be used ‘to formulate a sustainable and efficient MVNO licensing framework, as well as a highly conducive regulatory regime that facilitates growth and development in the telecoms space, through competitive and differentiated services offered by these virtual operators’. Comments are welcome until 31 December 2020.

Mexico has a new MVNO in the form of financial consulting company Sayco. The newcomer utilises the Red Compartida open access network and has been launched in association with Helsinki-based Business Support Systems (BSS) firm Qvantel. The new service is pitched as a ‘digital, self-service-driven solution’.

In Spain, Lemonvil has reportedly rebranded as Lemmon. The development was flagged up by local site Movilonia, and a while a new website and brand identity has been unveiled, the operator’s old website remains active. The Orange-powered MVNO also offers fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) connectivity.

Australia’s WAM Capital has agreed an ‘off-market takeover’ with amaysim, which will take place following the previously agreed sale of the latter’s mobile business, to Optus. Andrew Reitzer, amaysim chairman, clarified: ‘The WAM offer is complementary to the existing offer from Optus to acquire the mobile business. It has no impact on the existing offer from Optus, but rather, provides amaysim shareholders with additional optionality to receive a higher return. It also removes the uncertainty in the current distribution to shareholders that is dependent on the company’s ability to cost efficiently wind-up and de-list.’

Finally, cyan of Germany and Austria-based SMARTEL Services are embarking on a partnership which they hope will create an MVNE platform ‘for a new generation of MVNOs in Central Europe’. SMARTEL expects its first customer – described as a company ‘with a solid existing customer base in the five-digit range’ – to start using the platform in 1Q21. The partners note that ‘very promising projects are planned in the medium term’.

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