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

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27 Jun 2022

French fibre provider Altitude Group has announced the takeover of domestic B2B MVNO Airmob. Altitude, which already owns the likes of Kosc Telecom and Covage, hopes that the deal will help it to capitalise on the explosion of growth within the IoT sector – a segment that Airmob is already active in. According to the press release, Airmob has deployed a Full MVNO platform and is capable of offering 4G and 5G connectivity to its clients. Arnaud Lecoeur, CEO of Airmob, commented: ‘I am enthusiastic about the idea of ​​continuing to develop Airmob within a solid telecoms group like Altitude. This opportunity will allow us to become a key mobile player on the French B2B market.’ TeleGeography notes that Altitude already offers MVNO services via its own B2B unit, Linkt. The latter was launched in 2018, and has wholesale deals in place with three French mobile operators.

Another MVNO that could also be changing hands in the coming months is US-based Mint Mobile, which is part-owned by Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds. According to a report by Light Reading, which cites ‘several people familiar with the situation’, the discussions are relatively informal, but some interested parties have been dissuaded by the price-tag applied to the company. The article clarifies that the proposed sale will also include Mint’s majority owner, Ultra Mobile and its mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) business, Plum (‘Platform Leveraging Ultra Mobile’). While it has never officially been disclosed, it is believed that Mr Reynolds holds a 20%-25% stake in Mint Mobile. Last summer, it was suggested that a sale of Mint Mobile was hoping to raise between USD600 million and USD800 million, but no deal ever materialised.

Sticking with the US, Reach Mobile has extended its strategic, turnkey Wholesale-as-a-Service (WaaS) agreement with T-Mobile US. The companies will use ReachNEXT, a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform that accelerates and streamlines how businesses bring network-based services to market. According to Reach Mobile, T-Mobile wholesale customers can now utilise ReachNEXT as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for launching and operating MVNOs, fixed wireless access (FWA) platforms and IoT solutions. Further, the agreement also extends the existing multi-year MVNO agreement through which T-Mobile will continue to serve as the network for Reach Mobile’s nationwide subscribers.

In the UK, meanwhile, Telecom Plus (trading as Utility Warehouse) has reported a mobile subscription base of 324,773 as of 31 March 2022, up from 302,654 one year earlier. The company’s co-CEOs Andrew Lindsay and Stuart Burnett explained: ‘In the second half of the year, the majority of mobile providers began to charge again for EU roaming. Along with a handful of other MVNOs we have continued to offer this to our customers at no additional cost as a key customer benefit and differentiator of our proposition. Our mobile base has grown by over 7% in the last year. We look forward to accelerating this rate of growth over the year ahead on the back of the additional energy discounts customers can now receive by taking a UW mobile service in our new bundle structure, and as we continue to deliver feature improvements such as 5G.’

Finally, Mexico’s Federal Telecommunications Institute (Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones, IFT) has approved the proposed financing arrangement between the Mexican Development Bank (Banobras, Nafin and Bancomext) and ALTAN Redes (Red Compartida), which will result in the latter becoming a public-private partnership (PPP). The Mexican Development Bank will loan ALTAN Redes USD161 million, while other shareholders will provide loans worth USD50.5 million. TeleGeography notes that Red Compartida launched its open access 4G network in March 2018. A total of 114 MVNOs are now offering connectivity via the 700MHz network, which currently offers coverage to 70.97% of the population.

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