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

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30 Jan 2023

German businessman and tech entrepreneur Hakan Koc and former telecoms executive and private equity investor Pyrros Koussios completed their acquisition of UK-based MVNO group Truphone on 24 January. The assets and subsidiaries of Truphone Limited have been acquired by TP Global Operations Ltd., a newly incorporated vehicle that is 100% owned by the two investors. The new owners intend to ‘immediately provide additional funding to support the ongoing business and its future development’. Truphone currently holds MVNO markets in nine countries, namely: the UK, the US, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, France, Poland, Australia, Germany and Spain. Going forward, the group intends to add new MVNO markets to its portfolio and also grow its presence in the IoT sector.

A new MVNO branded PHOX has launched in Poland over the Plus network. According to local tech site Telepolis, PHOX has been launched by Warsaw-based 4RE, a company whose president is Konrad Patejczyk, who previously served as Director of Consumer Market Business Development at Orange Polska. The MVNO allows its customers to rent phones, and also offers to repair handsets once a year for free.

New South Korean MVNO Toss Mobile has attracted 150,000 pre-applications ahead of its official launch later this week. According to Yonhap News Agency, around 73% of the sign-ups currently use other MVNOs for mobile connectivity. So-called ‘super-app’ Toss is backed by Viva Republica, and currently provides banking, securities and mobile payment services. The report notes that the South Korean MVNO market comprised 12.639 million subscriptions as of November 2022.

Elsewhere, Chile has a new MVNO in the form of Smobi. The newcomer stated its intention to launch in October last year, but has only now gone live. At that juncture local technology website Pisapapeles stated that the new player was the brainchild of Juan Robles, who previously helmed the short-lived Colo Colo Movil, which ran between 2014 and 2015. Smobi piggybacks on the Movistar Chile network.

US cable giant Comcast Corp (Xfinity) has reported net mobile additions of 365,000 for 4Q22, which it says represents its best quarterly result since launching the service in 2017. Xfinity Mobile ended December with 5.313 million mobile subscriptions. Sticking with US cablecos, during the fourth quarter of 2022, Charter Communications added 615,000 Spectrum Mobile subscriptions, for a total of 5.292 million.

Sticking with the US, Pinwheel, a smartphone designed for kids and teens, has partnered with domestic MVNO US Mobile to bring affordable, kid-friendly cell phones to families across the country. Pinwheel says it was created in conjunction with therapists and child development experts ‘to support healthy habits and growth’. The phones are real smartphones with Pinwheel’s parental guidance software to allow parents to manage and monitor contacts, screentime and apps.

Finally, German vendor Cyan says it has expanded its existing MVNO arrangement with Telekom Srbija-backed MVNO MTEL Austria to encompass its network-integrated cybersecurity solutions. MTEL already uses an MVNO platform supplied by cyan‘s i-new subsidiary.

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