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

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11 Oct 2021

Mobile X Global, the new venture from Boost Mobile founder Peter Adderton, has announced plans to launch a new mobile service called MobileX over the Verizon Wireless network. Mobile X Global, which bills itself as ‘one of the world’s first connectivity-as-a-service-AI companies’ expects the new mobile brand to go live in 2022. Supported by XO.1, Mobile X Global’s proprietary cloud platform, and an AI-powered on-device application, MobileX says it will offer every customer their own unique service and ensure they only pay for what they use. Mario Turco, VP of Wholesale, Verizon Consumer Group, commented: ‘At Verizon, we are relentlessly focused on the customer, and MVNO partners like Mobile X Global are an integral part of our wholesale strategy to deliver the experiences and value consumers need and want.’

Sticking with the US, ISP EarthLink has launched MVNO services in conjunction with Ultra Mobile. Although the EarthLink website describes Ultra Mobile as ‘the underlying mobile network service provider’, the latter company is known to offer connectivity via the T-Mobile US network.

One ISP that will not be entering the MVNO space any time soon is Cox Communications. The cableco has been thwarted in its attempts to launch an MVNO on the Verizon Wireless network by a decade-old clause compelling it to stage negotiations with former network partner Sprint, which is now part of T-Mobile US. Light Reading has reported that T-Mobile took legal action to compel Cox to negotiate the matter. The report quotes a Cox spokesman as saying: ‘We respect Judge Zurn’s ruling. While it wasn’t what we hoped, we will move forward in the best interest of our company and our customers.’ TeleGeography notes that Cox has experienced a number of ‘false starts’ in the US wireless market, dating back to the 1990s. These include multiple network rollout attempts and an MVNO with Sprint Nextel, which was active between 2008 and 2011.

UK-based Wireless Logic has signed an IoT-focused MVNO agreement with BT Wholesale and its EE mobile unit. Wireless Logic says that the partnership will enable it to offer future-proof mobile connectivity for businesses looking to deploy fleets of IoT devices in the UK. In addition, 5G capability will be switched on for Wireless Logic’s customers from next year. TeleGeography notes that Wireless Logic is majority owned by Montagu Private Equity. In June this year Montagu teamed up with the company’s management team to buy out CVC Growth Partners’ minority stake in the business.

Over in Singapore, Grid Mobile has confirmed that it will shut down on 6 December. In order to minimise customer upheaval, Grid says it has come to an arrangement with fellow MVNO GOMO for the ‘seamless transfer’ of subscribers. The MVNO launched in June 2019 over the Singtel network.

Elsewhere in Asia, three shareholders of Malaysian MVNO Tune Talk have filed for a court injunction to stop Axiata Group from including the sale of a 35% Tune Talk stake in the proposed merger between MNOs Celcom Axiata and Digi. According to court documents viewed by The Edge, the plaintiffs have requested that Axiata be prohibited from including 5.25 million Tune Talk shares in the tie-up. The three aggrieved parties are named as Padda Gurtaj Singh (9.77% stake), East Pacific Capital (5.85%) and Tune Strategic Investments (14.4%). Elsewhere, Tune Group, which is controlled by Tan Sri Tony Fernandes and Datuk Kamarudin Meranun, owns a 25.14% stake in Tune Talk. The report notes that Tune Talk registered a profit of MYR62.2 million (USD14.9 million) on revenue of MYR472.3 million for the year ended 31 December 2020.

ALTAN Redes, the consortium which operates Mexico’s Red Compartida open access 700MHz network, has passed the milestone of four million subscriptions. Via more than 100 MVNO partners, the company says its networks now support a total of 1.142 million fixed-wireless subscriptions and a further 2.857 million mobile and Mi-Fi subscriptions. 700MHz coverage is now available to a total of 66.09% of the population, or 74.243 million people.

Finally, US MVNO Affinity Cellular has teamed up with RAZ Mobility, a provider of mobile assistive technology to people suffering from conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Affinity Cellular will start to offer its users the RAZ Memory Cell Phone, thus becoming the first wireless provider to offer a mobile device specifically for people with intellectual disabilities.

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