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”.