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

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1 Mar 2021

Australia’s MNF Group, which bills itself as one of Asia-Pacific’s fastest growing technology companies, has divested its SIM-only MVNO Pennytel following a strategic review of its business portfolio. MNF has signed a binding agreement for the sale of Pennytel to an existing wholesale customer, Macarthur Telecom. MNF notes that ‘The agreement enables MNF to continue to realise benefits of the Pennytel business through an ongoing agreement with Macarthur Telecom to continue to grow the customer base on MNF’s wholesale enablement service.’ TeleGeography notes that Pennytel targets the over-50s demographic and uses the Telstra network for connectivity.

Brazil has a pair of new MVNOs, in the form of Fala Mangueira and Tche Turbo Movel. The former went live on 14 February and was launched by the Estacao Primeira de Mangueira samba school in Rio de Janeiro, working in association with Dry Company do Brasil. It uses the TIM Brasil network. The latter went live on 22 February and operates over the Vivo network, via the Telecall MVNE platform. Tche Turbo is a regional ISP that serves small towns in the northwest of Rio Grande do Sul.

Sticking with Latin America, Grupo Televisa-backed Izzi Movil has added 35,401 MVNO subscribers in 4Q20, to end December with a total of 75,515 mobile customers. The virtual operator launched in June last year, via the Red Compartida network.

Dish Network has reported that its Boost Mobile MVNO unit ended December 2020 with 9.055 million subscribers – representing a net subscriber decrease of approximately 363,000 in the fourth quarter. Going forward, DISH has warned that T-Mobile’s planned shutdown of the legacy Sprint network is likely to impact heavily on its future operations. The company’s 10-K noted: ‘T-Mobile notified us that they intend to decommission its CDMA network on or around 1 January 2022. A majority of our retail wireless subscribers currently receive services through T-Mobile’s CDMA network. In the event that this shutdown were to occur before these subscribers were to naturally migrate off of T-Mobile’s CDMA network, these subscribers would have to obtain a new device, a new SIM card or receive a software download in order to continue receiving wireless services from us under the Master Network Services Agreement (MNSA). These required measures would cause a significant disruption to our Retail Wireless subscriber base which could result in, among other things, a significant increase in our churn rate.’

Spanish department store El Corte Ingles is planning the launch of an MVNO, in association with Grupo MASMOVIL, Expansion reports. The report notes that the two firms have previously collaborated on a joint venture relating to home alarm systems, but are now planning to commercialise a new MVNO/fibre proposition.

Finally, Michael Krammer, managing director of Austria’s HoT Telekom, has informed that the MVNO’s user base has reached 1.07 million, after adding 70,000 subscribers since passing the one million milestone in September last year.

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