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

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14 Jun 2021

Brazil is now home to a new MVNO targeting customers with left-wing political sympathies. Known as LeftFone, the virtual operator has been launched by financial firm LeftBank. According to TeleSintese, the service has been launched in association with Grupo Cuore, which recently unveiled Todes Telecom – the first LGBTQIA+ operator in Brazil. While the identity of LeftFone’s network partner has not been disclosed, Todes is known to use TIM Brasil for connectivity.

Also in Brazil, retail giant Pernambucanas launched its Chip Pernambucanas MVNO in more than 400 stores on 8 June. The service has been launched by MVNE Surf Telecom, which leverages a wholesale agreement with TIM Brasil. The retailer was founded in 1908 in Recife, Pernambuco, by Swedish businessman Herman Theodor Lundgren.

The third new Brazilian MVNO of the week is Lari Cel, which was launched by actress Larissa Manoela on Friday 4 June. Introducing the new service, Ms. Manoela said: ‘I believe that in addition to being connected for life, we will now be literally connected by a powerful internet signal.’ The MVNO has been launched in association with Dry Company do Brasil. All Dry-affiliated MVNOs utilise the TIM Brasil network; Dry has enabled more than 50 MVNOs to date.

Over in South Africa, Poket Mobile has launched MVNO services via the Cell C network. According to IT Web, the project has been facilitated by Pretoria-based MVNE FREI One Digital. As per the report, the Poket Mobile concept has been formulated by Zimbabwean-born entrepreneur Edwin Anderson – the former boss of Johannesburg-based funeral insurance group Zororo Phumulani.

Lebara Limited has filed its annual financial statements for the twelve months ended 31 December 2020 with Companies House in the UK. Turnover decreased from EUR316.0 million (USD382.6 million) in 2019 to EUR302.0 million in 2020, while annual profit ‘on ordinary activities before tax from continuing operations’ increased from EUR8.5 million to EUR23.0 million. (Note: Lebara Limited is a subsidiary of Netherlands-based Lebara Mobile Group, which operates the group’s Danish, German and Dutch units. Lebara’s ultimate parent company is Jersey-registered Lithium Topco Limited.)

Sticking with Lebara, Lebara Mobile UK has extended its MVNO partnership with Vodafone UK with an exclusive three-and-a-half-year deal. Thanks to the new agreement, Lebara customers will now be able to access Vodafone’s 5G service, as well as take advantage of other benefits such as roaming and 4G Calling. Vishal Dixit, Strategy & Wholesale Director at Vodafone UK, said: ‘The extension of our 14-year relationship with Lebara is testament to working in a true partnership … We look forward to continuing to work with Lebara, helping them achieve their growth ambitions.’

Australian fibre player Superloop has announced its intent to acquire Exetel for AUD110 million (USD856.2 million). The press release describes Exetel as ‘Australia’s largest private, independent ISP, with more than 110,000 consumer and business customers’. TeleGeography notes that, alongside its NBN reseller activities, Exetel currently provides 4G data services via the Optus network. The acquisition has been funded by a fully underwritten capital raise, and support from Superloop’s banks.

Finally, international IoT specialist Soracom has announced that it has secured capital investment from six major participants in the global technology ecosystem. Investors include repeat investor World Innovation Lab, a US-Japan cross border venture capital firm, as well as two large Soracom customers, Nippon Gas Co (NICIGAS) and Sourcenext Corporation. New investors in this round of funding include Hitachi, Secom and Sony Group Corporation. Soracom, which describes itself as an ‘un-MVNO’, offers a multi-carrier cellular data and SMS capability that works with over 240 carriers in over 135 countries around the world. It provides service via 2G, 3G, 4G and Cat M1 networks where available.

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Australia, Brazil, South Africa, United Kingdom, Chip Pernambucanas, Exetel, Lari Cel, Lebara Group, Lebara Mobile, LeftFone, Mbinga Network (Poket Mobile), Soracom, Superloop (incl. SuperBB)