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

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12 Apr 2021

Finnish smartphone manufacturer HMD Global, a unit of Nokia, has unveiled plans to launch a new, independent MVNO in the UK at the end of April. Branded HMD Mobile, the service will operate using the EE network. According to HMD, the UK MVNO launch will ‘mark the beginning of a global rollout’. Florian Seiche, CEO of HMD Global, commented: ‘We are listening to our fans. We have seen how much they are responding to online shopping and wanted to go one step further. The result is our own independent mobile connectivity service which guarantees transparency, flexibility, and competitive tariffs.’

Regional Australian telco Field Solutions Group (FSG) has signed a five-year wholesale agreement with Optus, which will see it gain access to the cellco’s 4G and 5G networks. The new service will target ‘rural, regional and remote Australia’ and go live later this year. As per a statement submitted to the ASX, FSG expects the new service to raise AUD20 million (USD15.3 million) in revenue over the next five years. TeleGeography notes that FSG – which claims to operate the largest non-NBN fixed-wireless service in Australia – successfully bid on 5G-suitable spectrum in the 26GHz and 28GHz bands in 2020’s spectrum auction.

Brazilian football team Sport Club Corinthians Paulista (Corinthians) is planning to launch an MVNO for the third time in just over a decade, Gazeta Esportiva reports. In order to facilitate the launch, the club has inked a three-year wholesale deal with TIM Brasil. Previously, in June 2017 the club launched a short-lived MVNO under the SmarTimao brand name. That service was owned by Mais AD, a now-defunct MVNO launched by the Brazilian arm of the Assembly of God church. The report notes that Corinthians first attempt to launch an MVNO was in 2010, when it used the Chip do Timao brand.

Sticking with Brazil, Porto Alegre-based Todes Telecom has launched as ‘the first LGBTQIA+ operator in Brazil’. Social responsibility is a key facet of the company’s philosophy, with Todes noting: ‘We will allocate 5% of the company’s global budget to support LGBT institutions in Brazil’. The new MVNO utilises the TIM Brasil network for connectivity.

Also in Brazil, Veek has launched Veek Freemium, a new offshoot that allows customers to access a free service in exchange for receiving and viewing advertising content. After paying an initial BRL50 (USD8.9) fee to cover costs, users will receives 4GB of internet access and unlimited calls. In exchange, they will need to watch a video advert via the app every 60 minutes to continue to receive the complementary service. Note: if the 60-minute time limit is reached during the middle of a call, the call will not be interrupted. Veek CEO Alberto Blanco told Mobile Time that he expects to sign up 80,000 freemium users by year-end.

Dutch retailer HEMA has announced that it will be shutting down its KPN-powered MVNO, HEMA Telefonie on 1 May 2022. However, 30 April 2021 will be the final day on which subscribers can top-up their credit. At HEMA’s request, KPN has put together a ‘starter package’ for interested pre-paid customers, who can switch to KPN free of charge until 31 May 2021. In a brief explanatory statement, HEMA notes: ‘HEMA has decided to stop offering telecom products because it is no longer in line with HEMA’s range and strategy.’

Tele2 Russia has revealed that the total number of MVNO customers using its network reached 4.8 million at end-2020, up 28% year-on-year. Tele2’s revenue from the MVNO segment increased by 55% on an annualised basis. The proliferation of bank-affiliated MVNOs has been credited with driving growth in the sector, with Tele2 noting that income derived from banking MVNOs surged 73% y-o-y, while bank MVNO subscriber figures climbed 32%. The existing three bank MVNOs (Tinkoff Mobile, SberMobile and VTB Mobile) on the Tele2 network were joined by a fourth, Gazprombank (GPB Mobile), at the end of 2020. In total, more than 20 MVNOs now piggyback on the Tele2 network.

UK-based independent investment company BGF has taken a 25% stake in Nottinghamshire-headquartered Jola Cloud Solutions, which is described as a mobile data specialist and eSIM MVNO. BGF paid GBP10.25 million (USD14.11 million) for the stake. Jola provides IoT and mobile data solutions to managed service providers, ISPs, IT support companies and telecoms resellers, who provision, manage and support thousands of SIMs through Jola’s Mobile Manager self-serve platform.

Finally, MVNE Pareteum Corporation has partnered with Reach Mobile, a provider of Digital Operator Cloud turnkey wireless services, to further differentiate its Pareteum Experience Cloud. Pareteum will seek to leverage Reach Mobile’s cloud-native platform to improve customer engagement and analytics. Working in tandem, the partners say that they will ‘rapidly accelerate the rollout of MVNO services around the globe’.

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