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

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28 Mar 2022

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has published its ‘Licence Framework for the Establishment of Mobile Virtual Network Operators in Nigeria’. The document outlines the watchdog’s stance on matters such as regulatory intervention, licensing obligations and commercial agreements, as it seeks ‘to foster an organically competitive market’. In addition, the NCC details the applicable licence fees. A Tier 1 MVNO (‘Services Virtual Operator’) will pay NGN30 million (USD72,072) for a licence, which will allow it to offer a branded, VAS-centric proposition, but not have access to numbering resources or switching infrastructure. The price for a Tier 2 (‘Simple Facilities Virtual Operator’) rises to NGN65 million and allows the company to establish its own Home Subscriber Register, Authentication Centre, Equipment Identity Register, and Home Location Register. A Tier 3 MVNO (‘Core Facilities Virtual Operator’), meanwhile, is permitted to deploy a full core network with switching and interconnect capabilities, as well as engaging in interconnect agreements with other network providers; a Tier 3 concession is priced at NGN100 million. A Tier 4 MVNO (‘Virtual Aggregator/Enabler’) is priced at NGN150 million while a Tier 5 MVNO (‘Unified Virtual Operator’) allows a licensee to dictate its own level of service using a combination of options from the aforementioned licences for NGN250 million. All licences will be valid for ten years, with an option to renew the licence for the same term.

Altice USA and T-Mobile US have expanded a multi-year MVNO agreement through which T-Mobile will continue to serve as the nationwide network for Altice USA’s Optimum Mobile service. Matt Marino, EVP of Consumer Services for Altice USA, commented: ‘As we continue to grow and evolve our Optimum Mobile service, we are pleased to reach a new agreement with T-Mobile that ensures our mobile customers will continue to benefit from T-Mobile’s nationwide network.’

Soracom says that it has partnered with Orange Wholesale France to grow its worldwide IoT connectivity services. The partnership enables Soracom to offer advanced IoT connectivity as an extension of Orange’s existing roaming partnerships across more than 220 destinations and 700 network operators. Ken Tamagawa, Soracom CEO and co-founder, commented: ‘Soracom provides an IoT platform with full MVNO capability to help innovators accelerate time-to-market and reduce total cost of ownership for IoT deployments … More than 20,000 customers now use Soracom, and an increasing number of companies are now offering connected products and services in multiple countries. Expanding our connectivity and platform services to support continued global innovation is a strategic priority for Soracom.’

Finally, over in Brazil, IoT-focused MVNO Next Level Telecom (NLT) is confident of reaching one million M2M subscriptions by the end of 2022. The target was disclosed by CEO Andre Martins in an interview with Mobile Time. NLT is connected to American Tower’s LoRaWAN network, and currently has around 120,000 devices connected over LoRaWAN, a figure which should surpass 500,000 this year. The chief executive noted: ‘The utilities vertical is the fastest growing: energy, water, gas and public lighting. What we need to deconstruct is this single-network concept. The other day we received a large gas utility for a large project and showed the advantages of hybrid connectivity. Instead of LoRa or NB-IoT equipment, why not use both technologies?’ According to industry regulator Anatel, NLT accounted for 306,401 M2M accounts as of January 2022.

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