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

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25 Jul 2022

US cableco Cox Communications is gearing up to re-enter the MVNO sector more than a decade after its Cox Wireless service was shut down. The new MVNO will be known as Cox Mobile, with the company website noting: ‘Cox Mobile is coming to qualifying current internet customers … very soon.’ According to Mobile World Live, the MVNO will be piloted in pilots in Hampton Roads, Virginia; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Omaha, Nebraska. As previously reported by MVNO Monday, Cox signed an MVNO agreement with Verizon Wireless on 16 January 2021 and hoped to launch its new mobile service in three markets on 15 October 2021. However, T-Mobile US attempted to derail the process, citing a 2017 legal settlement between Cox and the now defunct Sprint. T-Mobile argued that its 2020 takeover of Sprint made it the legal successor and should therefore benefit from the 2017 agreement. A decision in favour of T-Mobile was overturned by the Delaware Supreme Court in March this year. TeleGeography notes that Cox has experienced a number of ‘false starts’ in the US wireless market, dating back to the 1990s. These include multiple network rollout attempts and an MVNO with Sprint Nextel, which was active between 2008 and 2011.

Sticking with the US, Wide Open West (WOW!) has announced that its new WOW! Mobile service, which has been enabled by Reach Mobile, is now available to customers across the company’s entire footprint. The service leverages the nationwide T-Mobile US 5G network. WOW! provides cable broadband services in 14 markets, primarily in the Midwest and Southeast, including Michigan, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia.

South Korean mobile financial services provider Toss has reportedly acquired local MVNO Merchant Korea (MyWorld). According to the Korea Times, the fintech player has agree to acquire a 100% stake in Merchant Korea, which was founded in 1998. The article notes that the MVNO piggybacks on the networks of all three South Korean MNOs.

OXIO, which bills itself as a Telecom-as-a-Service (TaaS) provider has reportedly signed an agreement to help Mexican firm Alacel to launch pre-paid mobile services in El Bajio (the lowlands), which encompasses parts of the states of Aguascalientes, Jalisco (Centro-Los Altos de Jalisco), Guanajuato and Queretaro. The service will be sold via El Asturiano convenience stores. Jose Antonio Noriega, founding partner of Alacel, commented: ‘Today our main focus is Queretaro and neighbouring states in the centre of the country, [but we will] continue growing towards other regions.’ According to its website, OXIO offers a ‘BrandVNO’ service, which ‘lets you create your own Telecom-as-a-Service instance in minutes, with none of the cost or complexity’.

Finally, UK MVNO Mobius Networks, which provides data connectivity services for IoT and M2M applications across sectors including healthcare, transport, critical infrastructure and retail, has been sold by NVM Private Equity to global connectivity platform provider Wireless Logic for an undisclosed price. Mobius was founded in 2004 and was bought by NVM in October 2019. New owner Wireless Logic also recently acquired UK mobile data company Jola, a takeover aimed at consolidating the group’s routes-to-market in the UK and beyond. Jola describes itself as a global eSIM MVNO providing innovative IoT and mobile data solutions to MSPs, ISPs, IT support companies and telecommunications resellers.

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Mexico, South Korea, United Kingdom, United States, Cox Communications, Mobius Networks, OXIO, Reach Mobile (incl. ReachNEXT), Wide Open West (WOW!)

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