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

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8 Mar 2021

Lebara Group has selected Florida-based Cirrus Core Networks (CCN) to deliver a virtualised MVNO core solution for its European operations as it seeks to transition to a Full MVNO. The managed service CCN will provide includes Home Subscriber Server (HSS) and Diameter Routing Agent (DRA) running on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and private-cloud-hosted Packet Gateways. The vendor notes that its NFV-based solutions can be deployed in the private, public or hybrid cloud. Interestingly, the press release also refers to Lebara Group as being headquartered in the Netherlands, rather than in its traditional UK base. The group currently operates in the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, France and Denmark, serving 2.3 million subscribers. In total, the Lebara brand serves five million subscribers via licensing agreements in Spain, Switzerland, Australia and Saudi Arabia.

Rumours of an MVNO tie-up between Spanish department store El Corte Ingles and Grupo MASMOVIL have proven well-judged, and the new virtual operator will launch in the coming months under the Sweno brand. The retailer toyed with launching an MVNO back in 2008, also under the Sweno brand, but the venture did not make it past the testing phase on that occasion.

Malaysia has a new MVNO in the form of BeONE, a pre-paid provider which has been launched in association with longstanding MVNO redONE. Like redONE, BeONE utilises the Celcom Axiata network for connectivity. According to the newcomer’s website, it seeks to target ‘the vast majority of Malaysians and expatriates’.

According to Italian site MVNO News, China Mobile International (CMI) is poised to launch CMLink-branded MVNO services in Italy later this year, after receiving a licence in September 2020. TeleGeography notes that CMI launched its first international MVNO in the UK in December 2017. The CMLink website notes that the company is also active in Canada, Japan and Thailand.

Over in Australia, IT Wire reports that Macquarie Telecom has signed an AUD34 million (USD26.5 million) agreement with Optus, which will see it abandon its existing deal with Telstra. According to the article, MacTel currently serves around 100,000 B2B mobile customers, who will gain access to Optus’s 5G network as well as VoLTE and Wi-Fi Calling functionality. The report quotes Luke Clifton, the Group Executive of Macquarie Telecom, as saying: ‘5G plans are available immediately to new and existing customers.’

Sticking with Australia, IT Wire also reports that Telstra has announced e-SIM activation for all its MVNOs via Telstra Wholesale, after conducting a successful trial with two unnamed MVNO partners. The option – said to be a first in the Australian MVNO space – should go live ‘in the next few months’.

On 25 February UK pay-TV/broadband operator Sky revealed that its Sky Mobile MVNO unit has reached the two million milestone. In a social media post, the company announced: ‘Whether you’ve been with us from the start or if you’ve just joined – thank you, you’ve made it possible. We’ve reached two million customers on Sky Mobile!’ According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Sky Mobile launched in January 2017 over the O2 network.

US-based telecoms software firm NetNumber has entered into agreements to acquire Ireland-based ‘tactical comms specialist’ SiRRAN Communications and TD-Mobile, a Liechtenstein-based MVNO which specialises in the provision of secure connections for private and public entities. TD Mobile interconnects with 1,500 networks globally, and says it provides a seamless in-roaming experience, whilst still maintaining security for ‘whitelists’ and ‘blacklists’. Kevin Peters, President and CEO of NetNumber, commented: ‘These companies open new markets for our combined solutions and will bring enhanced mobility capabilities to our customers and to the industry.’

Finally, x-Mobility and Vyke have announced that they have signed two new deals to provide them with new number ranges in the Asia-Pacific region. These agreements will see the further global expansion of the ‘AppVNO’ service through the offering of local numbers for both Australia and Vietnam. Within the last three months, Vyke notes that it has increased its average net additions by over 50%, to 75,000 per quarter.

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