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

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3 Apr 2023

Chilean MVNO Simple Moviles, which is backed by investment firm Scale Capital, has revealed that it plans to shut down on 27 April 2023, after more than eight years of operation. All subscriptions will be transferred to host network Telefonica Moviles Chile (Movistar), and receive 5G access from that date as long as they have a compatible handset. The MVNO, which was founded by a trio of former Telefonica executives, launched on 27 February 2015, with a digital-only proposition.

Elsewhere in Latin America, Brazil has a new MVNO in the form of Chip do Cartola, which is affiliated with Cartola, described as ‘the largest fantasy game in Latin America’. The virtual operator has been launched in association with Dry Company do Brasil, which specialises in launching football-themed MVNOs. The MVNE utilises the TIM Brasil network.

The Branch Association of Bulgarian Telecommunications Operators (BABTO) has called on the Communications Regulatory Commission (CRC) to incorporate an obligation to host MVNOs into the licence terms for future 700MHz and 800MHz 5G concessions. Mobile Bulgaria quotes Angel Vasilev, chairman of BABTO, as saying: ‘The reduction of fees for this extremely limited state resource, radiofrequency spectrum – by about 40% – increases the concern that the three mobile operators receive financial support from the state … I believe that if the state gives a serious economic incentive for the development of this sector, it should also take the necessary steps to strengthen competition by creating conditions for the operation of MVNOs … Bulgaria is the only country in Europe where MVNOs do not exist, and because of this, the consumers lose the most.’

UK budget broadband provider Plusnet, which is part of BT Group, has stopped selling Plusnet Mobile SIM-only plans to new customers. A company spokesperson told ISP Review: ‘We will stop selling Plusnet Mobile products to new customers at the end of March. Existing customers will remain on their current plans. Over time we will be contacting existing customers directly to let them know what this change means for them.’ With the British group previously stating that it sought to turn mobile unit EE into the ‘flagship brand for our consumer customers’, it now appears that this streamlining strategy is underway.

Finally, Swiss multi-play provider Quickline, which launched mobile services in August 2010 via an MVNO agreement with Sunrise, has reported a 9.3% increase in its mobile subscription base year-on-year, from 77,600 at end-2021 to 84,800 at end-December 2022. Fixed broadband subscriptions grew 0.1%, to 177,500 in the period under review, while fixed voice accounts dropped 4.3% to 106,300 by end-2022.

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Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Chip do Cartola, Communications Regulation Commission (CRC), Dry Company do Brasil (MVNE), Plusnet, Quickline, Simple

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