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

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22 May 2023

Cuentas, the Miami-based firm that says it is ‘creating an alternative financial ecosystem’ for people who do not have access to traditional financial alternatives, has launched an MVNO called Cuentas Mobile. While the newcomer’s network partner has not been disclosed, Cuentas says the MVNO offers nationwide 4G and 5G connectivity. Cuentas co-founders, CEO Arik Maimon and Michael De Prado will operate the business initially, but expect to bring in additional senior management as the platform is rolled out.

Over in New Zealand, Nova Energy, which offers nationwide electricity, natural gas and broadband services, has launched MVNO services in association with Optiva, which has supplied the utility firm with its own in-house BSS cloud platform. Nova’s ‘Endless Mobile’ proposition utilises the nationwide 2degrees network for connectivity.

Argentina’s National Communications Agency (Ente Nacional de Comunicaciones, ENACOM) is set to order mobile network operator trio Claro, Movistar and Personal to cooperate with Buenos Aires-based cableco TeleCentro in order to facilitate its MVNO launch. TeleGeography notes that TeleCentro received an MVNO licence back in May 2016, but has yet to launch. The ENACOM board of directors rubberstamped the plan at its meeting on Thursday 18 May.

Elsewhere in Latin America, AmericaNet has announced that it is the first MVNO in Brazil to enable VoLTE functionality for its users. VoWiFi has been enabled simultaneously, the ISP-turned-MVNO notes. The telco launched MVNO services in March 2018, over the TIM Brasil network.

Sticking with Brazil, regional ISP Itnet Telecom is poised to launch MVNO services over the Telefonica Brasil (Vivo) network. The virtual operator unit – which will be branded Braz Movel – is expected to go live in 2H23. According to TeleTime, the Sergipe-based operator has been studying the introduction of MVNO services for two years.

South Korea’s Toss Mobile, which launched in January this year, has augmented its KT/LG Uplus-powered proposition with connectivity from SK Telecom. The venture is an offshoot of so-called ‘super-app’ Toss, which provides banking, securities and mobile payment services.

Rogers and Quebecor have asked the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to step in after being unable to negotiate MVNO terms, The Globe and Mail has reported. The request was dated 6 April – just days after Quebecor’s telecoms division Videotron bought Freedom Mobile from Shaw Communications for CAD2.85 billion (USD2.11 billion) in a prerequisite deal to the Rogers-Shaw merger. The CRTC accepted the two companies’ request for final offer arbitration on 27 April, inviting both to submit their final offers by 12 May. Rogers then asked for a two-week extension to that deadline. In addition to Rogers, Quebecor is also seeking MVNO agreements with Bell and Telus.

Recently appointed Verizon Consumer Group CEO Sowmyanarayan Sampath has confirmed that the cellco is still in the process of transferring TracFone Wireless subscriptions onto the Verizon Wireless network. Mobile World Live quotes Mr Sampath as saying that between 10% and 20% of TracFone customers are still waiting to be shifted to Verizon’s network.

Finally, Oxford-based eSIM GO has enabled Hungarian airline Wizz Air to launch a ‘digitally-driven ancillary service offering mobile data bundles to potentially millions of passengers’. The Wizz eSIM service, which is thought to be the first of its kind delivered by a European airline, uses eSIM Go’s ‘Powered by Breeze’ solution that requires little to no technical involvement from the Wizz Air team and offers data roaming in 150 countries. Dora Farkas, Wizz Product Portfolio Manager, commented: ‘Wizz eSIM allows our customers to stay connected, quickly and easily through our smooth digital journey, while avoiding expensive roaming charges.’

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