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

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5 Jul 2021

Russian telecoms giant Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) has announced the 100% acquisition of Multiregional Transit Telecom (MTT) for RUB5.0 billion (USD69 million) on an enterprise value basis. Founded in 1994, MTT launched an MVNO in 2016, over the MTS network. The company, which is primarily known for its communications-platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) and virtual PBX services, currently ranks as one of the ten largest telecoms companies in Russia.

In the UK, Vodafone and Dixons Carphone have agreed an exclusive multi-year partnership which will see the telco become the exclusive mobile network partner for the retail group, whose businesses include Currys PC World and Carphone Warehouse. Ed Connolly, chief commercial officer at Dixons Carphone, said: ‘We’re delighted to develop our long-term partnership with Vodafone which will see them become our exclusive MNO partner ahead of our new mobile offer launching later this year … The new offer will give customers better flexibility, transparency and value and is the final step in the transformation of our mobile business.’ Despite the exclusivity agreement, it is understood that the ‘new mobile offer’ will be launched to sit alongside with the group’s existing iD Mobile MVNO, rather than replacing it. iD Mobile has been powered by Three UK since going live in May 2015.

Elsewhere in Europe, Vodafone Germany has launched a new sub-brand called SIMon mobile. Using the slogan ‘Low budget. High life’, the newcomer has its sights set on the low-cost sector. Interestingly, numbers ported from other networks will receive a ‘permanent discount’ of EUR6 (USD7.1) per month and pay just EUR8.99. However, users of Congstar, Fraenk, Mobilcom-Debitel, o2, otelo, Tchibo Mobil, Telekom and Vodafone are prohibited from receiving the discount, while porting is not possible for customers of BILDmobil and Pure Mobile.

A new sub-brand has also gone live in Japan this month. Launched by long-running MVNO BIGLOBE on 1 July, donedone seeks to attract data-hungry users with its 50GB data package. Yahoo! News quotes company spokesman Mr Nakagawa as saying: ‘We are aiming for the current number of BIGLOBE mobile subscribers within three years.’ BIGLOBE – which is owned by MNO KDDI (au) – currently offers a maximum data allowance of 6GB.

Finally, on 25 June Ronan Dunne, CEO of Verizon Consumer Group, and Eduardo Diaz Corona, CEO of TracFone, met via teleconference with Acting Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel regarding the pending application seeking approval of Verizon’s acquisition of the MVNO giant from America Movil. As per FCC documentation, Verizon has promised to continue to offer TracFone’s current Lifeline-supported services post-transaction, as well as granting TracFone customers 5G access within six months of the takeover. The executives were attempting to allay fears regarding the impact the deal will have on ‘value-conscious customers’. As previously reported by MVNO Monday, the USD6.25 billion deal was announced in September 2020.

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