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

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22 Feb 2021

Victoria-based ISP Aussie Broadband will move its MVNO from Telstra to the Optus network, as per an agreement signed in December 2020. The deal will give Aussie Broadband access to Optus’s 4G and 5G networks as well as adding fixed-wireless capabilities, and the ISP will be hoping that the network shift gives its small-scale mobile business a boost. The company currently serves just 19,000 MVNO subscribers, compared to its impressive fixed broadband user base of 342,634 (313,193 residential/29,441 business).

According to El Pais, Orange Espana is planning to discontinue its long-running Amena sub-brand, as it seeks to concentrate its efforts on growing its Simyo brand. Citing industry sources, the publication says that Orange intends to ‘lighten its catalogue of brands’, suggesting other sub-brands may also be vulnerable. If the report proves true, it will mark the end of one of the Spanish telecoms sector’s most enduring brands. Amena was first introduced by Retevision Movil back in 1999, but the brand was ditched by France Telecom (now Orange Group) following its 2005 takeover of Amena Movil Telecomunicaciones. In an about-turn, the Amena brand was resurrected in 2012 as Orange sought to target the budget segment.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is taking additional time to consider Verizon’s proposed acquisition of MVNO TracFone Wireless, denying the mobile giant’s request for an expedited review of the deal. Fierce Wireless quotes an official as saying: ‘The Commission has not yet issued an order acting on this application for International Section 214 Authority because it raises issues of extraordinary complexity and thus an additional 90-day period for review is needed.’ The takeover deal – valued at USD6.25 billion – was unveiled in September 2020 and is expected to close in the second half of 2021.

Finally, Plintron says it has successfully integrated the La Poste Tunisienne point of sale channel, enabling SIM registration and top-up services since December 2020. The press release notes: ‘This will ensure ease of recharge access for its MVNO subscribers and facilitate new subscriptions. La Poste has many branches all over Tunisia and customers will find it easy to subscribe and recharge.’ The precise status of the post office-backed MVNO remains unclear, with Lycamobile Tunisia the only virtual operator included in the December 2020 observatory report published by the National Telecommunications Authority (Instance Nationale des Telecommunications, INT). At that date Lycamobile claimed 235,638 subscribers.

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