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

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6 Jun 2022

Brazilian mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) Surf Telecom has reportedly hired Banco Santander to find a buyer for the 40% ownership stake in the company that is held by Plintron do Brasil, the local subsidiary of Singapore-based mobile virtual network aggregator (MVNA) Plintron. Sources close to the deal told Tele.Sintese that the stake sale has been prompted by a legal dispute between Plintron and CEO Yon Moreira, who retains majority control over the company. Plintron, the report notes, believed that it was able to increase its stake by a further 20% in 2020, but Mr Moreira and his partners were not willing to cede control of the company. TeleGeography notes that Plintron was publicly unveiled as Surf Telecom’s strategic partner back at the MVNOs World Congress event back in May 2017.

Sticking with Brazil, Dry Company do Brasil and Nuh! Digital have been named as the winning bidders to deliver mobile connectivity to students across the country as part of the government-backed ‘Programa Internet Brasil’ (Internet Brazil Programme). Between them, the two MVNOs must deliver mobile access to a total of 700,000 students; Dry will be responsible for 70%, while Nuh! will cater to the remaining 30%.

Also in Brazil, Datora Mobile Telecomunicacoes (ARQIA) has reportedly installed a virtualised network core, which was developed in association with Pente Networks. The virtualised core utilises a private cloud installed at a data centre in Rio de Janeiro. Daniel Fuchs, VP of Innovation and co-founder of Datora, told Mobile Time that the upgrade will allow it to support companies that need flexibility, such as those in the logistics and agribusiness sectors.

Los Angeles-based MVNO Gen Mobile, which has operated over the T-Mobile US network since the latter company’s takeover of Sprint closed in April 2020, has added AT&T-based plans to its product suite. TeleGeography notes that Gen Mobile was acquired by DISH Network’s Boost Mobile unit in September 2021; in July 2021 DISH inked a USD5 billion ten-year agreement with AT&T that would see the cellco become the primary network services partner for DISH MVNO subscriptions.

Also in the US, industry blog Best MVNO reports that Verizon Wireless is stepping up the migration of non-Verizon TracFone Wireless subscriptions onto its network following the completion of its USD6.25 billion takeover in November 2021. Verizon’s current push involves offering Straight Talk customers based on alternative networks a free SIM card and a free month of service if they agree to switch networks. (Note: with more than 9.5 million subscriptions at the time of the Verizon takeover, Straight Talk was TracFone’s largest sub-brand by some distance.)

Finally, Orange Polska has launched its own MVNE platform as it seeks to unlock new revenue streams. Orange hopes to attract local ISP partners who are interested in pursuing a convergence strategy and says it can launch a new MVNO in just two weeks. Nikodem Wołynko, Project Manager for the Orange Mobile Wholesale Services Department, commented: ‘Our platform is one of the easiest and safest MVNE systems on the market. Its functionality is optimally suited to the needs of virtual operators.’

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