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MVNO Monday (delayed Wednesday edition): a guide to the week’s virtual operator developments

21 Dec 2022

Spanish telecoms retail chain Phone House has launched a new MVNO called Butik, which will be made available via the company’s 450 branches. The new service leverages the Grupo MASMOVIL network for connectivity, while fixed broadband plans are also said to be available. TeleGeography notes that Phone House’s first MVNO, Happy Movil, was launched back in October 2006, becoming just the second MVNO in Spain at that date. The unit was acquired by MASMOVIL in February 2015 before being shut down in mid-2018.

In the UK, Alexander Straub, the founder of Truphone has reportedly submitted a bid worth USD250 million to buy back the company from Roman Abramovich and his Russian associates. Sources told the Financial Times that Mr Straub, who set up the company in 2006, has concerns about the direction the company might take under the leadership of current bidder Hakan Koc. Mr Koc, a German businessman, offered to buy Truphone for GBP1 (USD1.2) in May this year, with a commitment to invest GBP15 million in the company. Straub’s bid is understood to comprise USD250 million worth of shares in a special purpose acquisition group (SPAC) that was listed in New York last year, generating USD300 million.

Mexico’s Valor Telecom, which launched in August 2020 over the Red Compartida network, is targeting pre-seed investment of USD500,000 from domestic and foreign investors. Founder and CEO Daniel Hakim is quoted as saying: ‘These funds will be used to accelerate our growth, expand our geographic presence, improve the developed digital ecosystem and streamline our sales channels, this with the aim of becoming one of the main mobile operators in the country by 2025 and help reduce the digital gap that currently exists in Mexico.’ According to its website, Valor Telecom currently serves 45,000 mobile subscriptions.

Russian state-owned nuclear power corporation ROSATOM has postponed the launch of its planned MVNO from 2023 to 2024, TeleSputnik reports. Local news sources had previously reported that Greenatom – a subsidiary of ROSATOM – received a five-year licence to provide mobile communications services on 29 September 2021. The MVNO was due to commence operations in September 2023, using the Tele2 network.

The Virtual Network Operators Association of India (VNOAI) has issued a press release confirming that it welcomes the draft of the Telecom Bill, which will replace the ‘fragmented’ legal framework currently governing telecoms in India. However, the VNOAI has called for additional measures designed to support the growth of would-be virtual operators, arguing that the ‘reseller model … is critical for healthy competition’.

Finally, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has maintained that it is on course to issue its first batch of MVNO licences before the end of December. Delivering the keynote speech at the ‘Creating Awareness and Ensuring Sustainability of MVNOs in Nigeria’s 5G Ecosystem’ event in Lagos this month, NCC executive vice chairman Umar Danbatta told delegates: ‘The commission has introduced MVNO licences that will generate employment and also bridge the gap between the unserved and the underserved in society. It will also further engender competition and provide choices for telecommunications consumers.’ As previously reported by MVNO Monday, in September the NCC extended its deadline for MVNO applications until 11 October 2022, as it sought to authorise the country’s first virtual operators.

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India, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, Spain, United Kingdom, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Phone House Espana (Butik), ROSATOM (MVNO), Truphone (UK), Truphone Group, Valor Telecom

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