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

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16 Jan 2023

T-Mobile US is considering a takeover deal for Mint Mobile, the MVNO co-owned by actor Ryan Reynolds, people familiar with the matter have informed Bloomberg. The mobile giant has been in talks with Mint, sources said, but no final decision has been made and closely held Mint Mobile could opt to remain independent or sell to another party. TeleGeography notes that Mint Mobile is majority owned by Ultra Mobile, while Mr Reynolds is believed to hold a 20%-25% stake in the business. Back in August 2021 it was suggested that a sale of Mint Mobile was on the cards, with Altice USA named as one of the frontrunners. The owners hoped to raise between USD600 million and USD800 million, but no deal ever materialised.

Over in India Morgan Stanley-backed iBus Network & Infrastructure is in talks with Vodafone Idea regarding a potential MVNO deal, the Economic Times reports. The article notes that iBus is one of 20 companies that have applied for 5G spectrum, as it seeks to explore private 5G network opportunities.

In China, meanwhile, UCLOUDLINK Group has announced that Beijing Huaxianglianxin Technology (Huaxianglianxin) has been successfully listed on the China National Equities Exchange and Quotations (NEEQ), an over-the-counter stock exchange in China. The listing went live on 12 January 2023, under the ticker symbol ‘874037’. Huaxianglianxin is an MVNO which UCLOUDLINK has invested in since 2019. UCLOUDLINK holds six million shares in Huaxianglianxin and the two companies cooperate in multiple fields, including the IoT sector.

Virgin Media O2 has confirmed it intends to move all Virgin Mobile subscriptions over to O2’s range of plans from next month. From February, the company will start sending communications to the first group of Virgin Mobile customers to let them know that their current service will transfer over. As part of this migration, millions of customers will receive unlimited texts and voice calls, and either double the data or unlimited data for the same amount each month. No customers will see the cost of their plan rise as a result of the move, the company notes. Migrations will occur throughout the year, and by the end of 2023 all Virgin Mobile customers will have been moved to O2 plans. Virgin Media and O2 closed their 50/50 merger on 1 June 2021.

Polish MVNO Mobile Vikings has announced that it has reached the 100,000 subscriptions milestone. The virtual operator launched over the T-Mobile Poland network in December 2013, before switching to the Play network.

Refurbly, the Swedish company that deals in refurbished mobile phones, witnessed a 300% uptick in business last year, reporting revenues of EUR1.4 million (USD1.5 million). While not an MVNO itself, Refurbly offers mobile subscriptions in association with Verbal, which piggybacks on the Telenor Sweden network. Mobile Europe quotes CEO David Lundgren Fetah as saying: ‘We saw a gap in the market where MNOs are struggling to pivot into the market for refurbished and used phones. We noticed customers purchased their used phones from one place, and then had to get a SIM-only deal from a different place. Why not have everything under one roof, and include circular insurance, repair service and everything else?’

Finally, Tofane Global has announced the acquisition of DIMOCO Messaging, a leading global SMS aggregator based in Liechtenstein and Austria that delivers around two billion messages per year. While the deal has been designed to allow Tofane to boost its presence in the application-to-person (A2P) market, DIMOCO is known to be in possession of an MVNO licence for Liechtenstein.

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TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database is now home to the telecoms industry’s fastest-growing collection of MVNO data, covering more than 90 countries and 1,800 virtual operators. If you would like to find out more, please email sales@telegeography.com

China, India, Liechtenstein, Poland, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States, Dimoco Messaging, Huaxiang Telecom, iBus Networks, Mint Mobile, Mobile Vikings (Poland), Refurbly, T-Mobile US, Tofane Global, Ultra Mobile, Verbal, Virgin Mobile UK

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