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

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10 Jan 2022

Camara de Cooperativas de Telecomunicaciones (Catel), which represents a large number of telecoms cooperatives across Argentina, has confirmed that it will launch its long-delayed MVNO service on 20 January 2022. The newcomer will operate under the imowi brand. The service will initially go live in Del Viso, Pinamar, San Miguel del Monte, Tortuguitas and Villa Gobernador Galvez. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, Catel was awarded an MVNO concession by the National Communications Agency (Ente Nacional de Comunicaciones, ENACOM) in December 2017 and went on to sign a wholesale contract with Movistar Argentina the following year.

Rostelecom has acquired 100% of the share capital of domestic mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) TVE-Telecom for RUB1.7 billion (USD22.2 million). The telco notes that the final value of the deal will depend on the execution of certain KPIs. TVE-Telecom platform utilises the Tele2 Russia network, and the MVNE says that it currently presides over an overall client base of one million subscriptions. The acquisition is expected to help to accelerate the growth of Rostelecom’s MVNO business and further progress the group’s strategy to create a single infrastructure for virtual products and solutions under the management of Tele2 Russia.

The China Mobile-backed CMLink Canada MVNO is poised to shut down – following in the footsteps of its US sister company. CMLink has published a statement on its official website, explaining: ‘In compliance with the request of the Canadian Federal Government, China Mobile will cease operations in Canada on 5 January 2022.’ To offset the abrupt closure, however, all users will have their service plans extended for free until 31 March 2022; the final shutdown date will be 1 April. Users can expect to hear from network host Telus about porting offers this month.

Mexico has a new MVNO in the form of Telgen. The service went live on 27 December 2021, with initial coverage of Monterrey. Antonio De Nigris, the company’s Chief Operating Officer, has promised to provide customers with flexible monthly contracts and international roaming in the US and Canada. The newcomer utilises the open access Red Compartida 700MHz network launched in March 2018 by the ALTAN Redes consortium.

Sticking with Red Compartida, the wholesale player confirmed that it reached the five million subscriptions milestone just before Christmas, up from just 200,000 at the end of 2019. Of the top-line figure, 3.839 million accounts are for mobile use, while the remaining 1.163 million users are signed up to fixed wireless plans. A total of 112 MVNOs now utilise the network, which offers 4G coverage to 69.58% of the population.

Over in France, Corsica-based Corse GSM has revealed that it now serves 62,000-subscriptions, around 18 months after its launch. Company president Louis Antonini expects the MVNO to reach the 100,000 milestone in the first quarter of 2022.

On 20 December 2021 the European Commission opened an in-depth investigation into the Czech Telecommunication Office’s (CTU’s) draft market analysis with regard to the regulation of the wholesale market for access to mobile services. While the EC acknowledges that the three main mobile operators have kept their networks open and enabled the successful commercial market entry of more than 100 MVNOs, it has serious doubts as to the compatibility of the related draft measures with EU law and considers it necessary to initiate an in-depth investigation.

Finally, US-based global MVNO Pond Mobile has announced a new partnership with Israel-based Kaymera Technologies. The latter company specialises in military-grade mobile security and secure communications solutions to protect its clients’ business interests. Kaymera offers protection against all mobile threats including rogue applications, voice and data interception, and location tracking. The two companies will provide their clients with a Kaymera-encrypted smartphone which delivers a mobile service via Pond Mobile.

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