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

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16 Aug 2021

DISH Network has confirmed that its Boost Mobile, Ting Mobile and Republic Wireless MVNO subsidiaries ended 30 June 2021 with a total of 8.895 million subscribers. The company’s 10-Q report, which was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), clarified that DISH completed its previously announced takeover of MVNO Republic Wireless in the second quarter of 2021. DISH noted: ‘On 1 May 2021 we completed an asset purchase agreement with Republic Wireless pursuant to which we purchased certain assets and liabilities of Republic Wireless, including approximately 200,000 wireless subscribers. The consideration for the Republic Wireless Acquisition consisted of an upfront cash payment and an earn-out provision.’

The latest Brazilian football team to launch MVNO services is Porto Alegre-based Sport Club Internacional. Branded Chip Gigante, the service has been enabled by Dry Company do Brasil, which has previously launched at least a dozen other football-themed MVNOs. Like its predecessors, Chip Gigante utilises the TIM Brasil network for connectivity. The MVNO went live on Friday 30 July.

Over in South Korea, Shinhan Financial Group has entered the MVNO space in association with Stage Five, the MVNO arm of messaging giant Kakao. The new service is branded Shinhan Mobile Plus and went live on 28 July, offering four distinct plans for users. The moves sees Shinhan Bank take the fight to rival bank KB Kookmin, which launched its Liiv M MVNO in December 2019. TeleGeography notes that Stage Five inked a wide-ranging strategic partnership with KT in 2019 and went on to launch its Qualcomm-designed Stage 5G smartphone in November that year; the device comes pre-loaded with Kakao’s apps and services.

Romania’s DIGI Communications has reported that its Spanish MVNO DIGI Mobil ended 30 June 2021 with 2.663 million subscribers, up 26.9% from 2.098 million year-on-year. The virtual operator targets the Romanian diaspora in Spain, which is understood to represent almost 20% of the country’s foreign population. The Spanish unit also claimed 327,000 fixed broadband customers and 110,000 fixed voice subscribers, via its fibre service, which leverages a wholesale deal with Telefonica Espana. The Italian DIGI Mobil MVNO unit, meanwhile, grew its customer base 21.2% to 297,000 by end of 2Q21.

Singaporean MVNO Circles.Life, which launched over the M1 network in May 2016, is offering subscribers the opportunity to trial 5G services between 17 August and 16 September. According to Asia One, at the end of the one-month free trial, customers will be able to get access to the 5G Start service by subscribing to a paid add-on via the Circles.Life app. (Note: the sign-up window for the trial expired on 15 August.)

Finally, Kenyan MVNO Equitel has announced that it has enabled 4G services for its subscribers. Lanre Bamisebi, Equity Group’s IT and Operations Director, commented: ‘The new Equitel 4G SIM will address the issues of slow internet connection and limited data coverage … As part of the launch, we are offering a 100% bonus to our customers by doubling their data bundles. We expect this to significantly accelerate our revenue growth and grow our active customer base.’ TeleGeography notes that Finserve-backed Equitel launched back in October 2014 over the Airtel Kenya network and served a total of 1.546 million subscribers as of 1Q21.

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