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

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23 Jan 2023

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) is investigating Singaporean MVNO Gorilla Mobile for failing to seek regulatory approval before ceasing its mobile service. On 16 January the virtual operator informed customers that it planned to discontinue services on 31 January. As per the conditions of IMDA’s Service-Based Operations Licence, however, telecoms firms are required to provide the regulator with a written notice six months before it intends to cancel its licence, or three months before it intends to terminate its service.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korean mobile financial services provider Toss is reportedly poised to launch an MVNO under the Toss Mobile brand. The so-called ‘super-app’ first signalled its intention to target the MVNO sector in July last year when it acquired a 100% stake in local MVNO Merchant Korea (MyWorld).

Mexico has a new MVNO in the form of Bromovil, which offers a variety of seven-day, 15-day and 30-day tariffs. The newcomer operates via the Red Compartida open access 700MHz network, which currently offers services to 80.823 million people, or more than 70% of the population.

iD Mobile, the MVNO backed by UK electronics retail chain Currys has agreed a new multi-year extension deal to continue its wholesale partnership with Three UK. The announcement follows news that the virtual operator recently hit the 1.2 million subscriptions mark. iD Mobile launched in 2015.

Telkom South Africa has revealed plans to launch its own MVNO platform later this year. Lunga Siyo, Telkom’s CEO of Consumer and Small Business, commented: ‘We believe that such partnerships will help create jobs, create a path into the industry for smaller players, and ultimately contribute to the growth of our digital economy … We aim to have our first MVNO go live this year.’

Elsewhere, Orange Poland has confirmed that five virtual operators are already using its new MVNO platform. A further 30 companies are said to be testing the platform and considering Orange’s wholesale offer. Later this year Orange expects to add eSIM functionality, static/dynamic IP addresses and the option of adding a private APN to its MVNO proposition.

Honolulu-based mobile operator Mobi has launched a new MVNO solution targeting the continental US. The new service – which it says leverages the ‘largest 5G network in the US’ (i.e. T-Mobile US) – has been deployed in conjunction with Working Group Two (WG2) and Amazon Web Services (AWS). WG2 has deployed a 4G/5G/IMS cloud-native mobile core on cloud architecture from AWS. TeleGeography notes that Mobi first launched mobile services under the Mobi PCS brand in January 2006. Mobi sold its PCS licences to Verizon Wireless in 2014, however, and switched to a ‘strategic network agreement’ in order to maintain service.

Sticking with the US, Mediacom could be the latest cableco to enter the MVNO sector, after trademarking the brand Mediacom Mobile with the US Patent and Trademark Office. The development was unearthed by Wave7 Research last week, but the filing itself took place in September 2022.

US MVNO Q Link Wireless, which provides services as part of the Federal Lifeline Assistance programme, has extended its availability to a new state, Wyoming. The MVNO is already operational in 31 states alongside Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. As per its website, Q Link claims to serve ‘more than two million customers’.

In unrelated news, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) proposing a penalty of USD62 million against MVNO Q Link Wireless for apparently violating provisions of the ‘2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act and Commission’ rules and orders governing the reimbursements it claimed for providing Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) programme customers with internet-connected devices between December 2021 and March 2022. Because of these apparent violations, which involved overclaiming support for hundreds of thousands of computer tablets, Q Link apparently obtained at least USD20.793 million in improper disbursements from the EBB programme during the period under review.

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