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

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29 Nov 2021

Verizon Communications has completed its previously announced acquisition of TracFone Wireless and TracFone’s family of brands from America Movil (AM). TracFone is the largest MVNO in the US, serving approximately 20 million subscribers via a network of over 90,000 retail locations nationwide. A long-time partner of Verizon, more than 13 million TracFone subscribers currently use Verizon’s wireless network through an existing wholesale agreement. TracFone Wireless currently operates via the following brands: TracFone, NET10, Straight Talk, Total Wireless, Simple Mobile, Page Plus Cellular, Walmart Family Mobile and B2B-focused Clearway Wireless. Additionally, the long-running SafeLink brand is part of the government-subsidised ‘Lifeline’ programme. Verizon paid a closing consideration of USD3.125 billion in cash, subject to customary adjustments, and 57,596,544 shares of Verizon stock.

Brazil has a new MVNO in the form of Supernova Celular. The newcomer piggybacks on the Telefonica Brasil (Vivo) network and offers its users discounts of up to 60% via arrangements with more than 200 retail partners. Supernova also offers a number of international roaming packages which cover ‘the Americas’, ‘Europe’ and ‘the World’.

Lebara France has switched from the Bouygues Telecom network to that of Orange France. In doing so, Lebara says it has upgraded to a Full MVNO business model and will seek to target a wider demographic. Richard Rollet, Managing Director at Lebara France, commented: ‘We have made the choice to expand our historical segment, which is that of customers wishing to call internationally and to address a larger market. By becoming a Full MVNO, Lebara is extending its scope and offering itself the possibility of freely managing SIM cards, calls, SMS or data flows as well as invoicing. We are delighted with this partnership with Orange, the leading operator in France, which confirms our desire to be part of the daily lives of French consumers.’

In the UK, Telecom Plus PLC (trading as the Utility Warehouse), which supplies a wide range of utility services (gas, electricity, fixed voice, mobile and fixed broadband) to both residential and business customers, has reported that its MVNO user base reached 306,738 at 30 September 2021, up from 288,567 one year earlier. As of 30 September, energy customers continued to account for the lion’s share of the company’s end-users (1.090 million), while the company also claimed 316,276 broadband subscribers. The MVNO currently operates over the EE network.

Finally, Nairobi-based NRG Media Group has launched a digital MVNO called BeMobile. Kevin Mulei, Group MD of NRG Media, commented: ‘BeMobile will break the stereotypes of mobile and create an iconic youth brand across Africa. The youth is the market to win. NRG believes in African youth culture and that’s the reason we are launching BeMobile.’ BeMobile is powered by x-Mobility’s AppVNO platform and offers international numbers (UK/US/Canada) on a user’s existing handset, free peer-to-peer calls and safe, separate numbers for chatting with dating site matches.

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