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

New call-to-action

15 Feb 2021

Belgium saw the debut of a new MVNO on 13 February, when utility player One Bill Global (OBG) launched over the Proximus network. Founded in 2019, OBG currently offers energy services to the residential and professional markets and says its ambition is to simplify people’s lives by combining different services that they use on a daily basis. The newcomer operates using a Light MVNO business model and serves customers via an automated and interactive platform.

Greek utility firm Volton has requested an MVNO licence from the National Telecommunications & Post Commission (Ethniki Epitropi Tilepikoinonion kai Tachydromeion, EETT) and says it is in the process of securing a strategic agreement with one of the country’s incumbent mobile operators. A statement attributed to Volton explained: ‘The entry of the group into the telecommunications sector is expected to … give consumers the opportunity for more options and services. The expansion of Volton Group’s activity marks the implementation of significant new investments in infrastructure, as well as the creation of new jobs.’

Sticking with Greece, Forthnet’s planned Nova Mobile MVNO has been suspended by the ISP’s new owner, Amsterdam-based United Group, as it seeks to complete a full strategic review of the existing business. Interestingly, domestic media reports have indicated that United Group’s main shareholder, BC Partners, is considering launching a takeover bid for Greek cellco Wind Hellas, which it seeks to combine with Forthnet.

Altice USA has reported that its Altice Mobile unit ended December 2020 with approximately 169,000 subscribers, representing an increase of 7,000 quarter-on-quarter (101,000 net adds year-on-year). The MVNO business generated revenue of USD20.2 million for the quarter and USD78.1 million in FY 2020, reaching 3.6% penetration of Altice USA’s residential customer base. Altice notes that as of end-January 2021, approximately 90% of Altice Mobile customers had been migrated onto the T-Mobile US network from the Sprint network, leading to a 15% reduction in dropped calls.

Following net disconnections of 194,000 in the fourth quarter of 2020, US MVNO TracFone Wireless ended the year with 20.682 million subscribers. The Straight Talk brand continued to account for the lion’s share of customers at year-end, with 9.604 million accounts. 4Q20 revenues reached USD2.1 billion, up 2.6% year-on-year, while ARPU increased 3.7% y-o-y to USD28.

Verizon Wireless sub-brand Visible is now offering 5G access to its subscribers at no extra cost, although download speeds are capped at 200Mbps. In addition, Visible notes that it has introduced eSIM functionality for new subscribers and now provides US-based calls to Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands at no extra cost.

PosteMobile, Italy’s largest MVNO by subscribers, should complete its planned switch to the Vodafone Italy network in 1Q21, the new host has revealed. DIGI Mobil’s transition to the Vodafone network is also expected to conclude by end-March, the MNO has indicated.

UK retailer Dixons Carphone has announced that its MVNO unit, iD Mobile, has extended its network partnership with Three UK. The multi-year agreement will allow iD Mobile to improve value for money by offering bigger data plans to its users. Adam Dunlop, Managing Director at iD Mobile, commented: ‘Since launching in 2015, we’ve remained committed to making our customers’ mobile lives better and looking at ways to improve the experience for them … With Three being at the forefront of the 5G revolution, it makes them the ideal network partner for us and allows us to continue with our ambitious plans for growing iD Mobile even further.’ 5G access is expected to become available to iD Mobile users later in 1H21.

UK business-to-business player Onecom has acquired its closest rival, Olive Communications, in a move which creates the largest B2B mobile, fixed line and cloud specialist in the UK. The tie-up brings together two of Vodafone UK’s most successful strategic partners. The acquisition was supported with follow-on funding from mid-market private equity firm LDC, which invested in Onecom in a GBP100 million (USD138 million) deal in July 2019. Together, Onecom and Olive will provide services to more than 500,000 corporate and business end users this year, generating combined annual turnover of more than GBP140 million. As previously reported by MVNO Monday, Olive renewed its contract with Vodafone in November 2019, adding 5G and IoT access into the mix.

New UK MVNO To The Moon Mobile has announced a partnership with Altrincham-based fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband provider Hey! Broadband to bring affordable connectivity to mid-sized cities and rural areas in the UK. To The Moon Mobile says that its users will receive an offer to purchase their Hey! Broadband packages with the ordering of their SIM card.

Finally, Vodafone UK has selected Digitalk’s Mobile Cloud platform to support its growth in the MVNO sector. The MVNE offers cloud-based real-time communications platforms and Vodafone hopes that Digitalk’s dedicated web services will help simplify the process of integrating new customers.

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