Tuesday, 30 December 2008

MVNOs and MMOs collaborating with MNOs for M2M market – Global

According to a report from ABI Research, MVNOs and M2M Mobile Operators (MMOs) are partnering with mobile operators to develop and provide services for the M2M (machine-to-machine) market. This market requires specialised services which were not addressed directly by traditional mobile operators except for some very large customers. The report states that specialised network providers such as MVNOs and MMOs can aggregate demand from various small customers in a cost-effective manner. Moreover, some of them have already started deploying their own specialised network infrastructure equipment.

According to the report, going forward, the tendency of MVNOs to become MMOs is also expected to increase. The report also states that while some network providers focus on regions such as North America and Europe (by providing multiple communication technologies), there are others which concentrate on generalised global reach (without providing multiple communication technologies).

Monday, 29 December 2008

Tele2 Netherlands clarifies its stand on warranty policy – Netherlands

Remco Meerstra, a spokesperson of Tele2 Netherlands, has clarified that the company does not plan to change its mobile telephone warranty policy. He was replying to remarks from the Dutch consumer authority that Tele2 should be responsible for repairs of damaged handsets (as the company has delivered the handset) instead of sending it to the manufacturer.

Currently, Tele2 sends the broken handsets directly to the manufacturer. According to the company, it cannot provide repair services as it does not have shops to receive damaged handsets from its clients. Meerstra added that the company has agreements with all the mobile manufacturers that enable direct delivery of handsets to them. However, service points express difficulty in sending the handsets directly to the manufacturers due to non-availability of IMEI numbers on handsets, which renders the warranty invalid. In reply to their concerns, Meerstra said that clients can directly approach Tele2 in case they were not helped by the handset manufacturer, and get a replacement.

Friday, 26 December 2008

UniverCell mulls handset and MVNO launch – India

UniverCell Telecommunications India Private Limited, a Chennai-based company owning the UniverCell multi-brand mobile phone retail chain, plans to launch its own mobile phone brand in India within a year. According to Satish Babu, Managing Director of UniverCell, the company will target low-end handsets (below INR 3,000 (USD 60.82)) as these phones account for more than 60% of the total mobile market.

Initially, the company will import handsets from China. However, the company may set up its own manufacturing facility at a later stage.

The company is planning to launch its MVNO service in the future and plans to bring its initial public offer by 2010-11 to fund its expansion plans. UniverCell seeks to expand its Indian operations by increasing its outlets from the current 200 to 1,000. The company has entered into agreements with Spencers and Music World outlets, and is in talks with other retailers for setting up around 300 shop-in-shops within the next three months.

For the fiscal year 2007-08, the company registered total revenues of INR 350 crore (USD 70.96 million) and aims to achieve INR 500 crore (USD 101.38 million) for the current fiscal year. UniverCell plans to increase their retail mobile market share from 20% to 40%.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Celcom to purchase equity stake in Tune Talk – Malaysia

Celcom Bhd, a subsidiary of TM International Bhd (TMI), has announced its plan to subscribe to 2.625 million shares in Tune Talk Sdn Bhd. The company has entered into a subscription and shareholders’ agreement with Tune Ventures Sdn Bhd, Tune Strategic Investment Ltd. and Tune Talk. Celcom, in a filing with Bursa Malaysia (Malaysian Stock Exchange), and also stated that the subscription to shares will be funded from the internal capital of the company.

Tune Talk Sdn Bhd is planning to launch its MVNO service in Malaysia, and investment in Tune Talk will enable Celcom to have an equity and management participation in the MVNO business.

Eroski Movil plans mobile data Service – Spain

According to Telecompaper, Eroski Movil, a Spanish MVNO, is planning to launch its mobile data service in the first quarter of 2009. According to the company, the service will be targeted both at consumers and enterprises.

Sprint amends agreement with Virgin Mobile – USA

2008 has not been a good year for Sprint as the company has continuously lost subscribers and the fourth quarter is not expected to be much different. This is despite the fact that they scored well on their second straight customer service survey.

The company has an MVNO agreement with Virgin Mobile and is offering more incentives to them for customers added in the fourth quarter of 2008 to boost its growth. The agreement between the two companies is very unique. Firstly, Virgin Mobile will pay Sprint an agreed fee for its network usage. The fee is USD 320 million, USD 370 million and USD 420 million for 2008, 2009 and 2010, respectively. However, Virgin Mobile will receive USD 2.5 for each subscriber added between July 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009, with an upper cap of USD 10 million.

Very recently, the deal between the two was amended. Now, Sprint will pay an additional USD 2 for each customer added by Virgin in the fourth quarter. The cap of USD 10 million is also expected to be removed. Additionally, Virgin Mobile will also pay USD 318 million as their network usage fee in 2008, a drop from an expected payment of USD 320 million.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

DoT to announce MVNO policy before 3G auction – India

The Department of Telecom (DoT) expects to release MVNO policy by January 5, 2009, which is also the date for the commencement of the 3G spectrum auction. Commenting on the development, J S Deepak, Joint Secretary of DoT, said: “We are hoping to come out with the policy on MVNO before the end of January 5, which is the deadline for the application of 3G spectrum”. He added that a sub-committee of DoT is working on the policy.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the Indian telecom regulator, defines an MVNO entity as: “An MVNO licensee is an entity that does not have an assignment of spectrum for Access Services (2G/3G/BWA) but can provide wireless (mobile) Access Services to customers by sharing the spectrum of the Access Provider”. However, mobile operators have requested TRAI to change the definition as it conveys a sense of ownership/co-ownership (spectrum sharing), which is not the case with an MVNO.

Monday, 22 December 2008

An Post partners with Vodafone for MVNO launch – Ireland

An Post, a state-owned provider of postal services in Ireland, is planning to launch its MVNO service in Ireland in 2009. The company will utilise the network infrastructure of Vodafone to provide products and services through its retail channels. Initially, An Post plans to provide only prepaid mobile services.

Commenting on the agreement, Charles Butterworth, Chief Executive Officer of Vodafone Ireland, said: “An Post’s MVNO will be able to draw on the strengths of two of the most recognizable brands in Ireland – Vodafone’s superior network and technology and An Post’s retail strength. This launch marks a further strengthening of competition in the Irish mobile market and will deliver great value to Irish consumers. Vodafone has invested significantly in building Ireland’s best quality and most extensive network. This deal with An Post allows us to make full use of this valuable asset”.

According to Donal Connell, Chief Executive Officer of An Post, the partnership with Vodafone is indicative of new products and services that the company is in the process of developing and plans to launch in the near future. He added: “1.7 million customers visit their local Post Office every week, and from summer 2009, customers can avail of handy, value-for-money, mobile phone services. We’re investing heavily in the Post Office of the future, marrying the strengths and expertise of our retail business with new products such as this MVNO with Vodafone”.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Lycamobile introduces festive text plan – UK

Lycamobile, an ethnic market MVNO, has launched a special festive offer on its Pay As You Go SIM for Christmas and New Year celebrations. Under the new offer, international mobile phone users will be able to send unlimited text messages to mobile users in any country globally from December 1 to January 2, 2009 by topping-up their cards with GBP 20 (USD 30.80) in the month of December. Every customer will receive an additional GBP 10 (USD 15.40) worth of calls on GBP 20 (USD 30.80) top-up vouchers, with new customers getting an extra GBP 2 (USD 3.08) credit on registration.

Commenting on the new offer, Milind Kangle, Chief Executive Officer of Lycamobile, said: “As always the focus of our festive promotion is to unite family and friends. In line with the increasing trend of sending text messages, we have developed a unique SMS promotion that allows our customers to interact on a global scale in a more straightforward and uncomplicated manner.”

Thursday, 18 December 2008

‘Office of Electronic Communications’ awards E-GSM spectrum – Poland

The Office of Electronic Communications, Poland’s telecom regulator, has announced the award of nationwide E-GSM radio spectrum to two network operators, namely P4 and Aero2. Both companies have committed to launch the provision of services (based on derived frequency) within 24 months of the issuance of the decision. The two companies are also obliged to meet population coverage of at least 30%, 55% and 80% by the end of 2009, 2010 and 2012, respectively.

Additionally, P4 and Aero2 will also have to provide wholesale telecommunications services to other telecom entities, including MVNOs, on the basis of equal, transparent conditions and a uniform offer. P4 and Aero2 will make a one-time payment of PLN 217 million (USD 75.38 million) and PLN 223 million (USD 77.46 million) as charges for frequency reservation.

012 Smile partners with MIRS for WiMAX service – Israel

According to Globes online, top officials of 012 Smile Communications and MIRS Communications are in negotiations for setting up a joint mobile WiMAX network. Both the companies are waiting for the final WiMAX policy announcement from the Ministry of Communication. Smile Communications is controlled by Shaul Alovitz’s Eurocom Group through Internet Gold Golden Lines Ltd. while MIRS Communications is owned by Motorola Inc.

According to Smile Communications, mobile WiMAX entry is required to counter other cellular operators’ entry into the Internet Service Provider (ISP) market. However, according to Smile, the feasibility of a nationwide WiMAX deployment is doubtful and a limited network together with MVNO operations is preferable.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

MasMovil introduces free mobile scheme – Spain

According to Telecompaper, MasMovil, a low-cost Spanish MVNO launched in February this year, has announced a new scheme under which the company will offer free mobile phones to customers who purchase top-ups of EUR 100 (USD 135.02).

D3 Mobile launches MVNO service – Kosovo

D3 Mobile, a subsidiary of Dukagjini Telecommunications, has launched its MVNO service in Kosovo. The company will utilise the network infrastructure of IPKO, the second-largest mobile phone operator, and will use the 043 phone code. Initially the company offer around 20,000 SIM cards and will provide the same services that are currently in use in the country. Commenting on the launch of its MVNO service, Kujtim Gacaferri, Head of Dukagjini Telecommunications, said: “D3 Mobile is a new incentive for further development in telecommunication in Kosovo”.

Currently, there are two mobile operators officially operating in the country namely Vala (owned by Kosovo’s Post and Telecommunication) and IPKO (which launched in 2007). However, there are also some Serbian telecommunication operators that are unofficially operating in certain parts of the country.

Lebara crosses 600,000 customer mark – UK

Lebara Mobile, an ethnic market MVNO, has reached 600,000 prepay customers in the UK, after just 12 months since its launch. According to Lebara Mobile, the ethnic market for international calling is estimated at five million customers and the company has already captured 12% of the ‘addressable market’.

Commenting on the achievement, Yoganathan Ratheesan, Chief Executive Officer of Lebara Group, said: “Reaching the landmark of 600,000 customers so soon in our UK trading history is testament to the hard work and focus of our UK Mobile team. But to us, the most important thing is to have the right quality of relationship with our customers, so that they get the most out of our compelling proposition both now and in the future. We really believe that in the market today, Lebara Mobile offers the ideal mix of convenience; quality networks; great customer service and simple and honest rates with no hidden charges or strings attached. With our success in the UK in 2008 to build on we’re certain 2009 will be another very exciting year for Lebara Mobile."

Lebara Mobile first started operations with a low-cost MVNO for international calls in The Netherlands, in 2004. Since then the company has launched operations in other countries such as Norway, Denmark, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.

Monday, 15 December 2008

PosteMobile reaches 670,000 subscribers – Italy

According to Cellular Magazine, PosteMobile has reached 670,000 customers after one year of it operation in Italy. According to the company, the numbers testify popularity of its range of services offered in the market. The company’s services provide seamless integration between telephony, postal and financial services, therefore making it an ideal tool for communication and other electronic transactions, such as money transfers and payments.

Talkster launches new software application for operators – Canada

Talkster, a Canadian provider of mobile voice and text communication services to online communities, has introduced a new mobile application named ‘talki’ which eliminates the need of a carrier infrastructure for delivering new voice, text and multimedia services to customers. The application also allows companies to create new revenue and marketing opportunities.

Commenting on the new application, James Wanless, Chief Operating Officer of Talkster, said: “Telecommunications services are becoming increasingly commoditized and with phone number portability, subscribers are less inclined to remain loyal to their service providers. With retail prices for basic wireless services reaching a floor in most markets, a door has opened for providing new features that can stem subscriber churn. But being at the mercy of carriers forced to cut back on innovation during the economic slowdown for new services may keep companies at a competitive disadvantage for an unknown number of years. Talki lets MVNOs deliver innovative new services at the device level, completely bypassing the dependence on carrier infrastructure. At the same time media companies can use talki for expanding their brand to the mobile channel without the need to experiment with becoming their own MVNO."

The new application, built on Java Micro Edition (J2ME), enables a compelling voice, text and multimedia service which results in lower usage fees and saves customers money. The company has built healthy margins into the offer by combining advertising subsidies together with a recurring revenue subscription. The new application provides unlimited text and picture messaging between ‘talki’ clients and a mobile-optimised service for connecting long distance and international calls on the Talkster network at the cost of a local call.

Virgin Media introduces ultra high speed broadband service – UK

Virgin Media has launched its ultra high speed 50Mb broadband service via fiber optic cable network in the UK. The new broadband service is nearly nine times faster than the existing average broadband speed in the country.

By the end of this year, the company is expected to have deployed next generation infrastructure over 40% of its network (covering areas in Scotland, the Midlands and South London), with the rest expected to get complete by the summer of 2009.

This improve fixed broadband service will help to strengthen the appeal of Virgin’s bundle packages including their MVNO service, which also offers mobile broadband.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Blyk launches new youth-targeted research service – UK

Blyk, an ad-funded MVNO targeted at 16-24 year-olds, has announced the launch of a youth research service via SMS for marketers. The service invites members via an SMS to answer survey questions on their mobile phones within a WAP environment. The service will enable advertisers to ask specific survey questions, receive direct feedback from Blyk members through fortnightly focus groups and pre-test concepts with youth opinion-formers.

Commenting on the new service, Shaun Gregory, UK Chief Executive Officer of Blyk, said: “This exciting addition to Blyk's product portfolio comes as a reaction to the demand in the current market and enhances the Blyk proposition for brands and advertisers. At Blyk, we are building on what we have already learned from tapping into the views and opinions of our members -- we have now opened the doors for other brands to do the same."

Virgin Mobile introduces a very special service – UK

According to Telecoms.com, Virgin Mobile has introduced a very special service for its customers. The service enables them to send a text message into space for their loved ones, via their mobile phones. For this service, the company has tied up with SentForever.com, a company formed in 2008 and solely involved in eternal communication. SentForever.com will be responsible for the entire business of converting message into radio waves and then finally transmitting them into space. The sender and the recipient of the message will also receive an individual tracking number to check how far the message has travelled.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Japan Communications partners with i-mate for mobile launch – Japan

i-mate, the Windows Mobile handset manufacturer, has received certification from Japan Approvals Institute for Telecommunications Equipment (JATE)/Telecom Engineering Center (TELEC) for the i-mate Ultimate 8502 Smartphone. This certification clears the way for its launch in the Japanese market. Japan Communications (JCI), a leading wireless data communications MVNO, will be the first company to offer the device and will focus on sales activities in the Japanese enterprise market. Commenting on the development, Naohisa Fukuda, Chief Marketing Officer at JCI, said: “We are pleased to offer i-mate unencumbered, SIM-lock free access to a Japanese wireless carrier network. We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with i-mate and to facilitating the market entry of many more of their devices.”

Jim Morrison, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of i-mate, said: “I’m proud to be able to work with JCI to offer i-mate Ultimate 8502 to customers in Japan. As one of the world’s most advanced mobiles, the Ultimate 8502 is fast and fully connected, and well placed to leverage Japan’s advanced networks. This makes it ideal for those wanting a powerful touch screen mobile with extra smarts.”

The customers of i-mate’s devices will also be offered free and exclusive access to i-mate’s i-Q suite of solutions such as allowing customers to lock, wipe and alarm their device in case it is lost or stolen.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Nokia’s MVNO service with NTT DoCoMo named ‘Vertu Club’ – Japan

The MVNO agreement announced earlier between Nokia and NTT DoCoMo will actually be signed between NTT DoCoMo and Vertu, Nokia’s luxury handset division. The new MVNO will be called Vertu Club, with services available on a premium membership basis. In this regard, the first Japanese Vertu store, called Ginza Flagship Store, will become operational in Tokyo from February 19, 2009. However, the services of Vertu Club will become available to customers from the second quarter of 2009. In the meantime, customers can purchase unlocked handsets such as Vertu Ascent Ti, Vertu Ascent Ti Ferrari and Vertu Signature from the Ginza Flagship Store.

O2 Wireless launches new online only offer – USA

O2 Wireless, an MVNO offered by Locus Telecommunications in the US, has introduced a new ‘online only offer’ for its customers. This limited period offer will provide customers with a brand new Alcatel 206 euro-style phone, 50 minutes of free talk time (upon activation) and a free USD 10 recharge card for USD 19.99. The service will be available to customers without contracts.