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

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20 Feb 2023

Sija Mobile, which was launched by Hoila! as the ‘the first and only German-Italian mobile service provider’ back in 2018 has shut down after running up debts with fellow MVNO Noitel, with which it had an airtime reseller contract. Both companies leveraged the Vodafone Italy network for connectivity. Prior to Noitel withdrawing service on 6 February, Sija Mobile served Bolzano, a mountain city near the Austrian border, which is the capital city of the province of South Tyrol.

Liiv M (Liv Mobile), the MVNO launched by South Korea’s KB Kookmin Bank in 2019, faces an uncertain future, with the parent company currently in negotiations with the Financial Services Commission over the future of the unit. The MVNO was launched as a temporary project, as per the guidelines of the ‘Financial Regulation Sandbox’. As such, it must shut down after four years (in April 2023) or seek special dispensation from the watchdog. Under the current law, banks can only operate in other sectors as a side-line. The MVNO launched over the LG Uplus network in 2019, before adding connectivity from KT Corp and SK Telecom in 2H22.

Regional US fixed line operator TDS Telecom has revealed plans to launch an MVNO by the middle of 2023. Fierce Telecom quotes Michelle Brukwicki, TDS Telecom’s CFO, as saying that the telco plans to partner with sister company UScellular in areas where their footprints overlap. However, the executive noted that this tie-up will only cover about 40% of TDS’ serviceable addresses, so TDS will seek to partner with additional mobile operators to achieve full coverage of its fixed broadband footprint. When the service goes live TDS hopes to provide customers with a fixed and mobile service bundle.

Elsewhere in the US, MobileX plans to launch on 22 February, CEO Peter Adderton has informed Fierce Wireless. With reference to the delayed launch, founder Adderton told the site: ‘Anytime you develop a new platform it always takes longer and costs you more. But I didn’t think it would take us this much longer.’

New Jersey-based MVNO POND Mobile has rebranded its B2B division (launched in 2018) as POND IoT, explaining: ‘This strategic move reflects the company’s commitment to shaping the future of IoT, as it dedicates its efforts to developing new solutions and enhancing current offerings.’ POND Mobile launched back in 2011 and specialises in offering global roaming access for more than 210 destinations.

Sticking with the US, Reach Mobile has announced that it witnessed a 250% increase in revenue for its cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform in 2022, without divulging precise figures. The ReachNEXT platform went live in June 2022, offering a one-stop-shop for companies considering launching an MVNO, a fixed wireless access (FWA) service or an IoT proposition. Reach initially launched MVNO services over the Verizon Wireless network in October 2019, before switching to T-Mobile US in 2022.

Finally, Plintron Colombia has announced that its mobile virtual network aggregator (MVNA) platform will go live in March, initially serving four unnamed MVNO clients. During the pre-launch phase, over 15 companies in Colombia have expressed interest in launching their own mobile services brand with Plintron’s support. The MVNA will utilise the Tigo Colombia network for connectivity.

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