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

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20 Sep 2021

Long-running MVNO Virgin Mobile South Africa has shut down more than two months ahead of schedule, with its SIM cards rendered inactive from Friday 17 September. Earlier this month Virgin Mobile disclosed plans to end its operations on 30 November 2021, citing ‘a combination of tough trading conditions, strong competition and the economic stress posed by COVID-19’. A brief note on the company’s website says that the abrupt shutdown ‘was beyond our control’. Local tech site ITweb.co.za notes that Virgin served just 15,000 subscribers at the time of its exit from the market.

Danish communications company IP Vision – which has offered MVNO services over the TDC and Telenor Denmark networks since 2009 – has been acquired by Brussels-based Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) specialist Destiny. Kenneth Andreasen, CEO of ipvision, commented: ‘Destiny has a strong track record of company integration that emphasises future growth, based on innovation and the strongest UCaaS product portfolio in the market, which perfectly corresponds to our business ambitions.’

Japanese mobile giant KDDI (au) has launched a new digital sub-brand called povo2.0. Interestingly, the new service has been launched in conjunction with Singaporean MVNO Circles.Life. Abhishek Gupta, co-founder/director of Circles.Life, said: ‘As the developer of Circles-X, the world’s first digital telecom operating system, we have worked with partners in Australia, Indonesia, Singapore and Taiwan to create services that enable our customers’ freedom. I would like to spread this world-leading technology and know-how to Japan in cooperation with KDDI.’

San Diego-based business phone solutions provider VOXOX has teamed up with Mexican MVNO EXiS Telecom and its MVNE partner Valor Agregado Digital (VADSA) to launch a new B2B service called EXiS Niufon. Bob Hertz, CEO & Co-founder of VOXOX, commented: ‘Mexico has millions of underserved SMEs and we are excited to partner with EXIS to offer these businesses an economical way to modernise their business phone communications with better quality, enhanced security, and greater reliability at lower rates.’

Romanian newcomer Benefito Mobile is now live. Pitched as ‘the first MVNO operator in Romania to change the business model in the telecom field for consumers and retailers’, Benefito says that subscribers who are willing to shop with its retail partners will be awarded mobile credit. Initial retail partners include: Banca Transilvania, Benefit, BCR, EdenRed, Up Romania, Bonusway and MyWorld. The company’s management team is targeting approximately 300,000 users by 2025 as well as a turnover of RON75 million (USD17.8 million).

Finally, Lycamobile UK has announced plans to invest GBP250 million (USD345 million) during the next three years as it seeks to revamp its brand identity and move away from its traditional focus on cut-price international call rates. Lyca Group CEO Navanit Narayan commented: ‘This investment is testament to our commitment to transform the business and take our services to a wider audience. COVID-19 has expedited the emergence of a new set of consumer mobile behaviours and values. Customers expect more diverse, differentiated and value-added services – and there’s a real opportunity for us to deliver exactly that as we look to grow our market share in the UK and beyond.’

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Denmark, Japan, Mexico, Romania, South Africa, United Kingdom, Benefito Mobile, Circles.Life, IP Vision (Denmark), KDDI (au), Lycamobile UK, povo2.0, Virgin Mobile (South Africa), VOXOX