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

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28 Feb 2022

US cableco WOW! has partnered with Reach Mobile to launch a new MVNO service. Harjot Saluja, CEO of Reach Mobile, commented: ‘By leveraging Reach Next, our new and innovative network monetisation platform to launch services including mobile and fixed wireless, WOW! has launched full-featured mobile service offerings with a back-office portal coupled with a white-labelled end-user experience for WOW! customers.’ Reach Mobile, which launched its own ’socially responsible’ MVNO service in October 2019, is understood to use the Verizon Wireless network for connectivity.

Sticking with the US, in an open letter posted on the investor relations site of cableco Mediacom, chairman and founder Rocco B. Commisso has indicated that he is ‘actively evaluating whether a compelling business case can be made for offering a Mediacom-branded mobile phone service’. If the plan comes to fruition, Mediacom will join cable rivals Comcast, Charter and Altice USA in the MVNO sector.

Over in Russia, Beeline is poised to launch a roaming-focused sub-brand called Joy Telecom, which will offer a flat connection fee covering 150 countries. A company source told business daily Kommersant: ‘We want to understand how potential clients will react to such offers without a tie-up to the Beeline brand.’

Greek utility firm Volton has reportedly inked a wholesale deal with Vodafone Greece ahead of its proposed MVNO launch. Volton will launch a Full MVNO proposition, which will target its 200,000-strong user base. Previously, in February last year Volton requested an MVNO licence from the National Telecommunications & Post Commission (Ethniki Epitropi Tilepikoinonion kai Tachydromeion, EETT) and said was in the process of securing a strategic agreement with one of the country’s incumbent mobile operators.

The European Commission (EC) has issued a decision requiring the Czech Telecommunication Office (Cesky telekomunikacni urad, CTU) to withdraw its 2021 draft decision relating to wholesale mobile access obligations. The CTU maintains that MVNOs are not able to offer competitive services due to allegedly unfavourable wholesale access conditions. As such, the watchdog proposed to designate the three largest mobile operators (i.e. O2, T-Mobile and Vodafone) as jointly having significant market power (SMP), and to oblige these three operators to provide national roaming to all operators. On 20 November 2021 the CTU notified the EC of its draft measure, but on 20 December 2021 the EC informed the CTU that it had serious doubts as to the compatibility of the draft measure with EU law and opened an in-depth investigation. On 24 January 2022 the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) issued its opinion on the EC’s serious doubts, partially supporting the EC’s initial findings.

Over in Germany, digital lifestyle provider freenet has announced that its mobilcom-debitel mobile brand will be scrapped in favour of the main freenet moniker, in order to consolidate and strengthen its brand portfolio and increase awareness. The transformation process will run until July 2022, by which date all online sales channels and 550 shops will be redesigned under the new brand.

Bangkok-based consulting firm Yozzo has reported that Thailand’s MVNOs are still struggling to make an impact, despite adding 20,032 net subscriptions on an annualised basis. As of 31 December 2021 the country’s four active MVNOs served just 56,517 subscriptions. Feels led the sector, with just 26,832 active SIM cards in service, ahead of Penguin SIM (25,578), i-Kool (2,219) and redONE (1,888).

Malaysian MVNO redONE has stated that it is optimistic of achieving its sales target of MYR600 million (USD143 million) for 2022. Chief sales officer, Ben Teh commented: ‘We are proud to have launched services outside Malaysia, to Singapore and Thailand in the first ten years of our establishment. Going forward, we are working to start business in the Philippines and Indonesia, this year, followed by other ASEAN countries in the near future.’

Finally, Saudi Arabia-based Integrated Telecom Company (Salam) has selected Optiva to supply its BSS platform to support its new MVNO, Integrated Telecom Mobile Company (Salam Mobile). The vendor notes that the platform provides real-time billing, charging and fulfilment and ‘will accelerate the velocity of the new product introduction cycle and more quickly deliver profitable growth’.

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