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

New call-to-action

25 Jan 2021

Ride-hailing app Uber has launched an MVNO in Brazil under the Uber Chip name. The service went live on 21 January and has been developed for use by Uber drivers and delivery partners. Crucially, subscribers using Uber Driver or Uber Eats will not see their data allowance decrease as a result. The MVNO – which was facilitated by MVNE Surf Telecom – is currently only available in Sao Paulo, although it is expected be rolled out on a nationwide basis during 2021.

Elsewhere in Latin America, Easter Egg Mexico has entered the MVNO market, with a proposition that targets ‘the largest gamer and geek community in Mexico’. The newcomer utilises the open access Red Compartida 700MHz wholesale network, which currently covers more than 63 million Mexican citizens.

Dutch MVNO Youfone has signed a wholesale agreement with Belgian full-service telco Proximus and will start offering fixed and mobile services in the Belgian market in April 2021. Rotterdam-based Youfone, which was founded in 2008, focuses on the consumer segment, and currently serves over 400,000 customers in the Netherlands. Geert Standaert, CTO at Proximus, commented: ‘We are delighted to sign this wholesale agreement with Youfone and welcome a new service operator on our mobile and fixed network. Youfone is a lean and mean company focusing on innovative, digital and customer-friendly solutions. They have an impressive track record and proven success in the Netherlands. We are glad to be their preferred partner in Belgium.’

Benefito Mobile – which plans to launch MVNO services in Romania in 2Q21 – has disclosed plans to sell 10,000 shares (or 5.3% of its capital). The share sale will take place via SeedBlink, the largest crowdfunding platform for tech companies in Southeast Europe. According to Romania Journal, the listing will take place tomorrow (Tuesday 26 January). The article notes that Benefito Mobile is a brand owned by Goil Services Romania, a company founded in April 2018. The latter company’s shareholders are named as Goil Power SRL Italia (which holds a majority stake) and Marian Velicu and Marius Ionescu, who together own about 36% of the company. The duo previously launched Veridian, Romania’s first MVNE, in 2012.

UK-based Virgin Media has announced that its Virgin Mobile unit has activated 5G for customers with compatible handsets and SIM cards. An announcement posted on the company’s website says: ‘With 5G on Virgin Media, the future is here in 100 towns and cities across the UK (with loads more coming soon) … Welcome to the stuff of dreams. 5G on Virgin Media means no more compromise, even when you’re on the go.’ The 5G launch has been enabled by Virgin’s new wholesale contract with Vodafone UK, which is replacing EE as its network provider from this year.

Russia’s MCN Telecom has expanded its residential MVNO coverage by a further three regions, to 21, with a target of 25 for Q1. This follows an expansion from eight to 18 regions between September and December 2020. The company claimed 20,000 MVNO users at end-2020 and has the capacity for 50,000. The expansion was prompted by the entry into consumer services after last year’s failed merger with DANYCOM.

US MVNO Tello has announced that its transition from the Sprint CDMA network to the T-Mobile US GSM network is now underway. Tello notes: ‘Current customers will begin to migrate from the CDMA network to the new GSM network in the first quarter of early 2021. Not to worry, the existing CDMA network will still be supported until at least June 2021.’

Finally, Canadian telco Distributel Communications has acquired fellow independent operator Primus Telecommunications (Canada) for an undisclosed price. Primus provides a full range of national telecommunications solutions including fixed phone/VoIP, fixed broadband and MVNO-based wireless services. Primus, founded in 1997, had been US-owned since 2016, firstly by Birch Communications and subsequently by Fusion Connect from May 2018.

We welcome your feedback about MVNO Monday. If you have any questions, topic suggestions, or corrections, please email editors@commsupdate.com

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database is now home to the telecoms industry’s fastest-growing collection of MVNO data, covering more than 90 countries and 1,400 virtual operators. If you would like to find out more, please email sales@telegeography.com

Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Romania, Russia, United Kingdom, United States, Benefito Mobile, Distributel, Easter Egg Mexico, Fusion Connect, MCN Telecom, Primus Canada, Tello (US), Uber Chip, Virgin Mobile UK, Youfone, Youfone (Belgium)