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

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18 Sep 2023

Iranian ISP-turned-MVNO Shatel Mobile has announced that it has reached the one million subscriptions milestone. The statistic was revealed by CEO Arash Karimbeigi, in an interview with local publication Economic World. Shatel Mobile launched six years ago, in September 2017, over the networks of MTN Irancell, Rightel and Mobile Communication Company of Iran (MCI).

Somphop Purivigraipong, one of the seven board members at Thailand’s National Broadcasting & Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), has shared his strategy to boost the country’s flagging MVNO sector in an interview with Bangkok Biz News. Mr Purivigraipong told the news site: ‘I have an idea to make MVNOs truly competitive. I would like to have a model similar to the Board of Investment (BoI) in Thailand with incentives for enterprises to market to specific groups in certain areas with specific packages and specific prices.’ The official believes that pursuing promotions in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) tourism provinces is a worthwhile option. (Note: in December 2022 the Thai government approved a THB1.35 trillion (USD44 billion) plan to develop the EEC into a regional financial hub and a world-class smart city by 2037.)

Sticking with Thailand, National Telecom (NT) will transfer half of its 700MHz spectrum to AIS, which is obliged to reserve 20% of the capacity for MVNO use. AIS will pay NT THB14.9 billion for the 10MHz block of spectrum and also pay any outstanding annual instalments owed to the NBTC.

Spanish MVNO Finetwork is reportedly at an advanced stage of negotiations with host network Vodafone Spain as it prepares to renew its wholesale deal. The current tie-up gives Finetwork access to Vodafone’s mobile and fibre networks and is due to expire in April 2024. As of June 2023 the company claimed a combined mobile/fibre subscription base of 900,000.

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM) has decided that further investigation is needed into major telco KPN’s proposed takeover of MVNO/fixed broadband/pay-TV provider Youfone. ACM stated that the deal ‘may remove important competitive pressure in the budget or no-frills segment of the mobile telecommunications services market’ which it said ‘could lead to higher prices or a poorer offer for consumers.’

Lyca Mobile Italy has informed its subscribers that it has activated VoLTE functionality. The MVNO, which utilises the Vodafone Italy network, has promised users ‘clearer, more stable calls over mobile data’.

Finally, the Belgian Institute for Postal Services and Telecommunications (BIPT) has fined Lyca Mobile Belgium EUR1.385 million (USD1.476 million) for failing to register its subscriber data with the central database used by the emergency services. The decision was handed down by the watchdog on 4 July and announced in a press release dated 15 September.

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