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

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1 Feb 2021

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has published its ‘Licence Framework for the Establishment of Mobile Virtual Network Operators in Nigeria’, following a consultation period in December 2020. As per the draft document, the NCC proposes no mandatory regulation of MNO–MVNO negotiations, suggesting a purely commercial agreement between the two parties. In the likelihood that negotiations or resolutions appear unfair, the NCC will intervene as it sees fit. Licence fees could be as low as NGN500,000 (USD1,308) for a ‘Category A (Service-based MVNO)’ licence, rising to NGN1.5 million for a ‘Category B (Basic Facilities MVNO)’ concession and NGN2.5 million for a ‘Category C (Full Facilities-based MVNO)’. MVNEs/MVNAs will also be encouraged, with a mooted licence fee of NGN3 million. Licences will be valid for a ten-year period, but can be renewed (no later than twelve months before the initial expiration date). In addition, licensees must progress to a full commercial launch within twelve months of taking receipt of their permit.

Australian energy supplier AGL has launched an MVNO over the Optus network. Branded AGL Mobile, the new service uses the telco’s 3G and 4G networks. The MVNO has been designed to complement the firm’s energy and fixed broadband networks, with chief customer officer Christine Corbett commenting: ‘We want to transform how Australians connect to the essential services that power their lives. We’re offering customers simplicity and ease by taking away the hassle of calling several providers and becoming the one provider who can offer it all.’ TeleGeography notes that AGL signalled its intention to enter the telecoms space back in December 2019, when it acquired Southern Phone in a deal valued at AUD27.5 million (USD21.0 million).

Sticking with Australia, amaysim has announced that it has successfully completed the sale of its mobile business to its long-term strategic wholesale partner, Optus Mobile, as agreed on 2 November 2020. The cash deal was valued at AUD250 million. The sale concluded earlier today (1 February).

Benefito Mobile – which plans to launch MVNO services in Romania in 2Q21 – has secured EUR300,000 (USD363,796) worth of start-up capital via its listing SeedBlink, which is said to be the largest crowdfunding platform for tech companies in Southeast Europe. The investment is equivalent to a 14.5% equity stake in the business. The newcomer has confirmed that it will utilise the Telekom Romania network.

Comcast Corporation has reported that its Xfinity Mobile MVNO ended 31 December 2020 with 2.826 million subscribers, up from 2.052 million one year earlier. Quarterly wireless revenues reached USD505 million, up 35.8% from USD372 million one year earlier.

Sticking with the US cable sector, Charter Communications (Spectrum) grew its MVNO user base to 2.375 million at the end of the fourth quarter, up from 1.082 million in December 2019. Quarterly mobile revenues surged 80.9% from USD236 million in 4Q19 to USD428 million in 4Q20.

Finally, South African mobile operator Cell C has informed My Broadband that all of its MVNOs will be moved across to the MTN South Africa networks in a migration process that is expected to last around three years. Cell C is shutting down its own radio infrastructure and migrating all customers to the MTN and Vodacom networks, but it maintains that it possesses all the relevant infrastructure to continue functioning as a mobile operator. Cell C CEO Douglas Craigie Stevenson describes the cellco’s new business model as a ‘Super-MVNO’.

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