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

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29 Mar 2021

Guadalajara-based direct-to-consumer specialist Betterware de Mexico has acquired 60% of domestic MVNO GuruComm for MXN45 million (USD2.2 million). Going forward, GuruComm will operate within Betterware, as Betterware Connect, but will continue to be led by the existing GuruComm management team. TeleGeography notes that GuruComm became the first MVNO to launch over the Red Compartida open access network back in August 2018.

China Mobile International (CMI) has confirmed that its CMLink-branded MVNO has gone live in Italy. According to Mondo Mobile Web, the new service has a ‘320’ number prefix and piggybacks on the WINDTRE network. 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, Singapore and Thailand.

South African retail group Shoprite has revealed that its planned MVNO will operate using the K’nect Mobile brand. The new service, which is slated to go live from next month, will use the Cell C network, which itself leverages a nationwide roaming agreement with MTN South Africa. Shoprite is working with an MVNE called FREI One Digital to launch the MVNO, Tech Central notes. In a press statement, the retail group noted: ‘K’nect Mobile’s key differentiator is simplicity, with flat call and data rates, and no complicated tiers. Airtime, data bundles and rewards only expire after 60 days, rather than the more common 30-day expiry.’

Another MVNO edging closer to launch is Canada’s dotmobile, which has confirmed that eSIM/SIM cards are now available free to pre-order on a nationwide basis. Its owner, Toronto-based Data On Tap was approved as Canada’s first Full MVNO by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in January this year. When it launches ‘late this year’ dotmobile will use the network of Iristel, a regional provider serving the Far North and Northern Quebec, as per a deal signed in September 2020, but it is seeking access to multiple Canadian mobile networks to achieve national coverage.

Vodafone UK’s partnership with ASDA Mobile – first announced back in the autumn of 2020 – has now begun in earnest, the MNO has confirmed. From 22 March 2021, all new customers to ASDA Mobile have been automatically connected to the Vodafone network. In addition, ASDA has started moving its existing mobile customers over to Vodafone, with the process expected to be completed by mid-September 2021.

Poland’s Telestrada has announced that the active subscriber base of its Lajt Mobile MVNO totalled 81,134 at the end of February, up slightly from 81,044 in December 2020 and 72,615 at the end of 2019.

Finally, Brazil’s Banco BMG – which launched an MVNO under the name BMG Chip in November last year – has activated 10,000 SIM cards, company official Roberto Amud has informed Mobile Time. The newcomer expects to sign up between 200,000 and 300,000 users by end-2021, and one million by end-2022.

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Brazil, Canada, Italy, Mexico, Poland, South Africa, United Kingdom, ASDA Mobile, Banco BMG Chip, CMLink Italy (China Mobile Italy), dotmobile, GuruComm, Shoprite (K’nect Mobile), Telestrada (incl. Lajt Mobile)