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

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14 Mar 2022

Verizon Communications – which completed the USD6.25 billion takeover of TracFone Wireless in November 2021 – is understood to be taking steps to migrate the roughly seven million mobile users connected via AT&T Communications and T-Mobile US across to the Verizon Wireless network. According to distributor-related correspondence shared by BestMVNO, TracFone Master Agents stopped purchasing AT&T/T-Mobile SIMs for the TracFone brand on 1 March. As per the timeline set out in the document, Verizon ‘will remain the only carrier for the TracFone brand’ from 1 July. TracFone also operates via the NET10, Straight Talk, Total Wireless, Simple Mobile, Page Plus Cellular, Walmart Family Mobile, SafeLink and B2B-focused Clearway Wireless brands. Switchover details for these brands have not yet been disclosed.

Sticking with North America, Pugga Squared Wireless has launched fixed wireless ‘Home Internet’ MVNO services in the US and Canada. According to its website, the US-based service appears to utilise the T-Mobile US, Verizon Wireless and AT&T Communications networks (billed as ‘T-Network’, ‘V-Network’ and ‘A-Network’); the service plans vary in price depending on the network being used. In terms of Canadian connectivity, the different service plans are labelled ‘R-Network’, ‘B-Network’, and ‘T-Network’ (i.e. Rogers, Bell and Telus). According to BestMVNO, Pugga has been launched in association with US mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) Plum. Plum was founded by the people who built Ultra Mobile and Mint Mobile, and the name is derived from the words ‘Platform Leveraging Ultra Mobile’. The Plum website notes that the MVNE works in partnership with T-Mobile US.

In other US news, ‘socially-conscious’ MVNO Reach Mobile, which launched over the Verizon Wireless network back in October 2019, has reportedly switched to the T-Mobile US network.

Surinamese telco Telesur has disclosed tentative plans to explore MVNO launches in Guyana and the United States. CEO Mike Antonius has informed journalists that his company is currently in talks with potential partners in neighbouring Guyana, as it seeks to replicate the MVNO business model it currently uses in the Netherlands. TeleGeography notes that the telco’s Dutch MVNO unit, Telesur Mobiel Nederland, launched back in November 2008 and targets mobile users calling/travelling between Suriname and the Netherlands.

Finally, Swiss telecoms retailer mobilezone has published its 2021 annual report, in which it confirms that its in-house MVNO business TalkTalk increased its post-paid user base from 31,300 to 45,000 in the year ended December 2021. Sales at TalkTalk amounted to CHF17.1 million (USD18.4 million) in 2021, compared to CHF15.9 million in 2020. The MVNO is targeting 66,000 subscriptions by end-2022. The group also operates High Mobile in Germany, which generated sales of CHF17 million in 2021, up from CHF13 million in 2020. High Mobile’s subscription base reached 69,000 at end-2021, up from 54,000 year-on-year.

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Canada, Germany, Guyana, Switzerland, United States, High Mobile, Plum, Pugga Squared Wireless, Reach Mobile (incl. ReachNEXT), Sparhandy, TalkTalk (Switzerland), Telesur, TracFone Wireless