Wednesday, 16 December 2009

NRJ Mobile and Sicap introduce double-network MVNO device management – France

NRJ Mobile has deployed Sicaps’s double-network device management platform. The software will allow the operator to provide services via both Orange’s and SFR’s network (but not simultaneously to individual subscribers). By interrogating user behaviour fed back to NRJ (via the software) the operator will be able to recommend to subscribers which network would provide them with best coverage.

The software will also provide facility for over the air updates to NRJ’s subscribers.

Armin L. Rau, Sicap’s Managing Director for EMENA said: “We have worked closely with NRJ Mobile since their acquisition of our Device Management Center in 2004. The implementation of our latest Device Management Center provides NRJ Mobile with a powerful commercial and customer care tool to manage subscriber services and their devices.“

Julien Muller, NRJ Mobile’s Director of Products and Services commented: “The deployment of Sicap technology was the most user-friendly and cost-effective way for us to manage the specificities of our dual network strategy. Sicap has consistently recommended software tools which fit our scope, constraints and expectations and which ultimately benefit our customers.”

ASPIDER selects Blueslice for MVNE expansion – The Netherlands

ASPIDER Solutions, a leading supplier of wholesale MVNE services to MNOs, has selected Blueslice’s evolved Subscriber Data Management (eSDM) solution. The solution is the ngHLR 3000™. Its deployment will allow ASPIDER to benefit from integrated low-cost roaming, multi-profile subscriber provisioning and custom solutions for the M2M market.

Luis Carrera, Chief Technology Officer of ASPIDER Solutions commented: “Our key objective was to acquire a flexible, scalable and carrier-grade next-gen HLR platform that enabled ASPIDER to expand its wholesale branded services portfolio, and Blueslice provided us with a best-of-breed system. Working with Blueslice will help us to sustain our current growth and meet the emerging needs of our client base.”

Leonard Scheepsma, Vice President of EMEA Sales for Blueslice commented: “At Blueslice, we are always eager to work with the most innovative service providers, and it was clear to us that ASPIDER Solutions is geared for success. Having ASPIDER Solutions as a customer will help us drive even further innovations in the areas of wholesale solutions and Machine-to-Machine”.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Tele2 France sale to Virgin completes – France

Tele2, headquartered in Sweden, has completed the sale of its French division to Virgin Mobile France, via Omer Telecom, for SEK 575 million in cash (just over USD 80 million). Omer Telecom has set 2010 as the year for it to turn a profit from its French operation and to reach 2 million subscribers. The deal takes Omer to roughly 1.6 million subscribers.

Friday, 11 December 2009

DNA Seattle appointed as agency of record for Simple Mobile – USA

Simple Mobile has appointed DNA Seattle to head up its advertising and integrated brand strategy. The new MVNO launched services in November across the USA and in Puerto Rico. The service targets the SIM only market based upon marketing strategies of keeping everything straight forward (simple).

Chris Witherspoon, DNA’s Director of Client Service commented: "Simple Mobile is the perfect partner for DNA. Given our experience in successfully positioning challenger brands in highly competitive categories, most notably PEMCO in the insurance category and BECU (the nation's fourth largest credit union) in the banking category, we're confident we can do the same for Simple Mobile. Simple Mobile's promise to keep things simple means consumers will finally have wireless service the way they want it. We look forward to helping bring to life a brand, products, and services that will truly revolutionize the wireless market."

First “private GSM” MVNO launched in the UK – United Kingdom

Smarter Mobile has launched the first MVNO in the UK using a Private GSM (Concurrent Spectrum Access) host network with full delegated authority to deploy its own infrastructure.

The offering is being targeted at SMEs with the ability to overcome local coverage issues by use of micro cell technology. The service is also billed as being ideal for M2M applications where there is lack of coverage indoors and for remote environments.

As part of their product portfolio Smarter Mobile offers its “Smarter SURVEY”. This allows clients to compare signal strength and ultimately usefulness of an MNO offering compared to the Smarter Mobile offer.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

E-mail only handset via Fon goes live – Europe

Fon, a Spanish WiFi operator, has partnered with Spotnik to offer European wide MVNO access for its new PeekFon device. PeekFon is an e-mail only mobile device. It offers no voice, web browsing or texting services as to be expected on pretty much any mobile device. The company believes there is a viable market to be exploited of those roaming across Europe in need of sending e-mails - who also do not have a device to already achieve this.

The initial cost is EUR 99 which comes with six months of free roaming. Thereafter the service will cost EUR 12.90 a month. In addition to MVNO access users will benefit from WiFi access over the Fon network.

The big question is who will pay for an e-mail only device on Fon. The availability of free WiFi across European cities is a major hindrance to the offer. Although not truly free, customers of coffee shops, museums, trains and various other service sector businesses benefit from free WiFi during their visit. It would also be fair to assume that those regularly roaming and being in need of e-mail are likely to have a WiFi compatible handset. Alternatively, those on a budget are likely just to stick with a EUR 0.30 SMS back to home, as opposed to EUR 12.90 a month.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Inea to become an MVNO - Poland

Another Polish cable TV operator is soon to join the MVNO market. Poznan based Inea will launch MVNO services over Orange’s network via an agreement with PTK Centertel, according to local media rpkom.pl.

The move sees Inea join Aster and Cyfrowy Polsat as media companies which have ventured into mobile operations. As a whole the Polish mobile market is now very open in terms of competition. The market is made up of 4 MNO with additional brands masquerading as MVNOs and 12 real MVNOs as of the last edition of The MVNO Directory, with other launches since. Even Snickers and Avon have MVNOs in Poland.

My Dad’s lost his phone company – Netherlands

The incredibly packed Dutch MVNO market has seen another MVNO fail. ‘My Dad’s Phone Company’ is closing down all services. Pre-pay clients will have no service from 1st January 2010 and post-pay clients will no have service from 20th February 2010.

The service launched in 2007 over Vodafone’s network and is owned by Dexcom Holdings. The MVNO had been targeting the mass discount market. Clients are free to take their business elsewhere but host MNO Vodafone are expected to attempt to convert the MVNO’s subscribers into their own direct clients.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Cable operators bypassing MVNO route – Spain

Spain’s telecom regulator is to auction additional spectrum in the 2.6Ghz range during Q1 2010. Ono, Euskaltel, R and Telecable are reportedly considering a team bid. The move would see the 4 cable based operators clubbing together in an attempt to provide mobile services without having to buy minutes and access from the established MNOs.

Being practical, this is somewhat of a messy idea. In France, Numericable and Virgin Mobile failed to fully bid in the French auction due to complications. With double the amount of operators in a single bid there will arguably be double the amount of complications. Euskatel also already has an active MVNO arrangement with Vodafone signed back in 2006. Spain also has a very established MNO market consisting of 4 operators. This includes France Telecom, Telefonica and Vodafone, being 3 of the biggest players in the mobile world.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

SIM wants 40% of MVNO market share - Thailand

While the fighting continues over termination rate pricing and rates for minutes between TOT and the 5 coming MVNOs, SIM has announced that they are expecting to win up to 40% of the MVNO market share in Bangkok.

The soon to be MVNO expects to harvest 20,000 subscribers within their first month of operation and 200,000 within year 1. The company is still stating that they expect SIM to generate 5-10% of Samart I-Mobile's revenue for 2010.

Although due to imminently start their MVNO businesses only 3 of the 5 potential MVNOs have received full approvals for launching services; being Loxley, Samart I-Mobile and 365 Communications.

KDDI lauches $60 tariff – USA

KDDI is joining the unlimited tariff operators by offering its subscribers a USD 60 tariff. For this they will receive unlimited same network minutes, unlimited domestic weekend and evening calls and up to 400 minutes for free outside of these hours to other US networks.

The American KDDI launched in 2007 via Telcorida over Sprint’s network. The service looked to primarily target Japanese nationals and their families living in the USA.

Videotron moving further from MVNO to MNO – Canada

Quebec based Cable operator, Videotron, has come out fighting in the marketing battle for who has the biggest and best network. The operator is currently building a 3G network of their own to launch wireless services over in the Quebec region. The operator claims that subscribers will have a superior experience using their network compared to the existing networks. The rational behind this is that they will have fewer users and therefore greater capacity to manage the traffic, therefore the service will not be hindered by bottle necks from too many subscribers.

Users of the service will roam onto Rogers network within Canada when outside of Videotron’s network and onto T-Mobile when in the USA.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Mobile Partners Group gets Loxley on board for m-broadband – Thailand

Loxley has approached UK based Mobile Partners Group for their technological assistance in launching a 3G mobile broadband MVNO in Bangkok. The soon to launch MVNO is hoping to secure 30,000 subscribers to the ‘i-kool 3G’ mobile broadband service and to break even within 18 months of launch.

Loxley was one of 5 firms selected by TOT to offer mobile services over the new network. The state owned MNO hopes that their new MVNO partners will assist in rapidly generating traffic and revenue over the network to ensure a good return on their investment.

Thailand’s mobile market is somewhat different to other nations. There are according to The MNO Directory (http://www.MNODirectory.com) 6 active MNO in Thailand. However, only 2 of these MNOs actually own their network. The 4 other networks have licensed spectrum and must pay for and build out their own networks - but the ownership of these networks falls to either CAT (generally CDMA) or TOT (generally GSM). Both CAT and TOT are state owned.

XLN Telecom enters mobile market – United Kingdom

Gamma Telecom has signed up XLN Telecom as its first MVNO. The move will see XLN launch mobile services before the host MVNE, being Gamma, launches its own MVNO.

XLN is a London based fixed line provider targeting the SME sector (small-medium sized enterprise). The company, according to ‘mobile news’, has 125,000 existing clients who will be the initial targets of its MVNO business. Being an MVNO via an MVNE the need to sign up huge volumes of clients should not be as big an issue compared to a direct relationship with an MNO. XLN will become part of a collective of operators working for MNO ‘3’, via Gamma.

XLN Telecom’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Christian Nellemann commented: "We are delighted to offer best value mobile phone services to complement those we already provide for landline calls and broadband. For too long SMEs have been forced to pay over the top for mobile services they just do not need or particularly want. By designing mobile tariffs based around what our business land-line customers say they actually need, we are now able to completely shake-up the market in this sector."

Virgin Mobile speeds up m-broadband – United Kingdom

Quadruple-play provider, Virgin Media, has released a new 7.2 MB USB modem, which is twice the speed of their existing offering. No indications of actual network speeds came with the announcement, being something which consumer groups have become very vocal about.

Graeme Oxby, Executive Director for Mobile, Virgin Media, commented: “We’re thrilled to be offering this faster mobile broadband to our users. If you’re not at home or near a wireless connection, mobile broadband is the best way of staying connected on the move and we’re delighted to be making this a speedier, more pleasant experience for our customers.”

The mobile broadband service is part of Virgin’s MVNO relationship with T-Mobile.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

MTNL looks to Virgin to rescue failed 3G launch – India

Six months after launching their 3G networks in Delhi and Mumbai, MTNL (state owned) has managed to amass 1,000 subscribers for the advanced service. On any scale this is not a feasible return on investment so MTNL put out to tender the network as a franchise.

Only 2 firms actually bid for the franchise with the other bid coming from Spice Group, whose MNO operation is now a part of Idea Cellular. Spice withdrew from the bidding due to inappropriate experience (specifically 3G) rather than being outbid.

MTNL has set Virgin a revenue target of USD 51.7 million for both the Delhi and Mumbai operations (each) over a 3 year period. Revenues falling short of target will be met with a fine of 10% of the difference (between actual revenue and targeted revenue, payable from Virgin to MTNL). MTNL also reserves the right to refranchise or to increase the quantities of franchisees should Virgin not succeed.

Virgin Mobile acts as an MVNO in India or as a franchise as they are locally referred to. The operation is a joint venture between Tata Teleservices and the Virgin Group.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Unilava launches MVNO - USA

Baldwin Yung, President and Chief Executive Officer of Unilava Corp, has announced that the company is to launch an MVNO based mobile division. The launch will strengthen the company’s existing portfolio of telecommunication offerings to both SMEs and residential users. Mobile services offered will include both CDMA and GSM technologies as well as 3G and converged offerings.

The company runs its own ‘40 carrier-grade microwave wireless broadband infrastructure’ and sees the MVNO option as a good add-on to its current offering. Unilava already operates the mobile service as Telava Mobile. The new division will allow for greater marketing activity.

Their mobile plan starts at USD 12.99 per month and a mobile broadband service is also available for USD 50 per month (5GB limit).

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Orcon deciding on host MNO – New Zealand

Broadband ISP Orcon has been in the news this week in regards to their planned MVNO. The company has been consulting its existing subscriber base looking to find out how to win them over to a mobile service with Orcon, as opposed to their existing suppliers. Nothing has been formally set out by Orcon and even the host MNO is being debated.

Orcon already has a mobile network agreement with Vodafone to host the MVNO. However, Telcom recently announced that it would be wholesaling its new XT network. Telcom is also the fixed line supplier used by Orcon to provide their broadband offering.

Orcon’s Head of Marketing, Duncan Blair, has been quoted by Action Media saying: “I guess we could have launched a while ago with plans like the other MVNOs have done. It would have been quite similar to what’s in the market and I guess we didn’t feel like that’s very Orcon, if you like. We like to do things a little bit differently as you know.”

Being an early mover can be a good move for any new MVNO; it is better to hit a market with few competitors than to be the 30th entrant. However, the decision to hold back is a good one. Far too many MVNOs launch services on the basis of thinking they are great or by offering what is a cheaper alternative (for the time being) to the competition. Inevitably such a weak marketing strategy leads to failure and elsewhere the concept of multi-play offerings has failed to gain traction.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Orbitel looks beyond Spain – Europe

After launching service in Spain back in September, Orbitel is looking to expand operations across Europe. The operator is targeting the international calls market and states that they are actively researching how they can take best take advantage of traffic from African immigrants who have settled in Europe.

Iñaki López Pelegrín, Orbitel's Wholesale Head of Sales in Europe commented to Total Telecom: "In the first phase we are focused on traffic we can see moving from Europe back to northern countries in Africa; so Morocco, Senegal, Tunisia, Algeria and Nigeria. We want to collect as much traffic as we can, and also terminate as much traffic as well. We want to find and follow the exodus of the people [into Europe] and logically North Africa is very close."

Orbitel is the managing company of Columbia’s incumbent network. Spain was selected as the testing ground due to it being the first choice of Columbians emigrating to Europe. Now in Europe, Orbitel wants to seize upon related traffic from other territories.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

T-Mobile and 3 not in the iPhone club, but Tesco allowed in – United Kingdom

The iPhone is perhaps the biggest current headliner grabber within the consumer mobile handset market. However, it still only picks up a tiny percentage of the global handset market; comparatively 5% of what Nokia managed during Q209. However, this is based upon one type of handset which has moved from an Apple ‘cult’ following to what is becoming a must have gadget for both youth and tech savvy non-youth markets.

Within the UK, 3 out of 5 MNOs currently have iPhone agreements and now Tesco Mobile, an MVNO of O2, has joined their ranks. This is potentially embarrassing for both ‘3 UK’ and T-Mobile UK as Tesco Mobile is in comparison to them, simply an MVNO. It is also worrying for Orange and Vodafone as Tesco plans to beat them to market, being in time for Christmas.

The question is why Tesco and not the 2 remaining MNOs and why in competition to Orange and Vodafone. Potentially this is a really clever move by Apple or a trashing of their recommended retail price. Within the product life cycle the early adopters and similar have already purchased their iPhones, as too have those waiting for a post-launch deal or for the early adopters to act as their guinea-pigs. This means that iPhone sales need a pick me up and the agreement with Tesco allows for a massive marketing blast onto the UK high-street, or more precisely, into the biggest retailer’s nationwide footprint.

Tesco has not clarified their selling angle for the iPhone but the hints are that the unit price will be kept as is but the tariff for using the handset will be more akin to a Tesco theme. Meaning that their will be no price war attrition against Apple, but their will be a hotting up of associated competition between operators selling their packages around the iPhone. This also contributes to answering the question of why Tesco. Tesco Mobile is an MVNO joint venture of O2 and Tesco Plc. O2 until now has had a monopoly over iPhone sales but Orange and Vodafone are soon to hit this cosy arrangement. It is possible to argue that those who want an O2 iPhone have already got one and that O2 has run out of time to catch the stragglers and the harder to convert market. Bringing in Tesco Mobile with the MVNO theme allows for the iPhone churn from other networks to continue, which benefits O2 as Tesco is their MVNO.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Rumours of a Hever MVNO – Israel

Israeli local new news agency, Haaretz, has reported that Hever are considering their own MVNO. Hever is reported to be a consumer group of 100,000 career soldiers and the reports state that the organisation has already approached the communications ministry to discuss the idea. The concept itself would pass the recent change to MVNO terms by the ministry which last week saw sister companies to MNOs barred from launching MVNO services.

giffgaff launches, still a brand (not an MVNO) – United Kingdom

New mobile offering giffgaff, which is owned by o2 and operated by o2 but cited repeatedly as an MVNO, has launched services. SIM cards are available for free and voice calls are charged at GBP 0.08 per minute with SMS charged at 0.04 per message. Same network (giffgaff only) minutes are free and the data plan is currently uncharged.

The new brand’s value-add promotion is a rewards system where subscribers earn credits for performing tasks for the company. So far the list of tasks stops at customer service to other subscribers.

XOX aiming for 1 million subscribers – Malaysia

Recent MVNO start up, XOX Communications, is targeting 1 millions subscribers by the end of 2010.

After launching XinXun mobile prepaid in Kuala Lumpur today, Ng Kok Heng, President of XOX commented: "With our innovative packaging and marketing, XOX Com is confident of reaching this goal by the end of next year.”

XOX is Malaysia’s first MVNO and is entering the market aggressively. The company is seeking to increase its dealer network from 7,500 to 10,000 dealers and is pushing out a price conscious offering to the market.

Virgin Mobile buy out signed off – USA

Sprint has completed its acquisition of Virgin Mobile USA. This now brings in house the Virgin brand, which itself consumed Helio. Also within Sprint’s MVNO previous take over list is Boost Mobile USA, which was part of a global series of Boost operations.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Telenet signs up for Acision’s messaging platform – Belgium

Acision has announced that Telenet is upgrading its legacy voicemail platform to Acision’s next generation messaging architecture. This platform will allow Telenet to reduce the total cost of ownership of its voicemail solution, as well as deliver converged messaging and voicemail applications for Telenet´s full MVNO mobile platform.

Peter Michiels, Senior Vice President of Network and Service Engineering for Telenet commented: “For years, Acision’s voicemail has serviced the needs of our fixed-line telephony customers. Now, Acision’s next generation platform will enable us to provide additional benefits to our ever growing mobile subscriber base. The advanced voice messaging functionality will enable our customers to communicate in new ways and increase our service stickiness.”

Tony Morrish, Senior Vice President and General Manager for Europe and Russia for Acision said: “The deployment of Acision Voice Messaging Platform at Telenet is not only [an] endorsement of the strength of our voicemail offering but also marks the continuation of an already solid relationship between the two companies. The flexibility of our platform means it can be scaled to meet the needs of service providers of all sizes and can be expanded to meet subscriber growth at minimal cost.”

Telenet is Belgium’s largest provider of broadband cable services. It focuses on providing cable television, high-speed Internet and telephony services, mainly to private customers in Flanders and Brussels.

New MVNE study released – Global

MVNEs form the backbone of an MVNO's business of wireless Network Services providing help in broad areas of product development and marketing. These outsourced services include: Data Services, Content Management, Customer Relationship Management, Profile Management, Service Provisioning, Work Fulfillment, Billing, Invoice and Settlement, Revenue and Service Continuity Assurance etc.

This report evaluates the working aspects of MVNE's and their operations primarily focusing on the market opportunities (outsourced from MVNOs). The report contains a categorization analysis by MVNE service and by the extent to which various OSS items are outsourced. The report also includes a comparison matrix that acts as a reference and recommendation to help choose MVNEs by service type and specialty.

Tesco Mobile gets UK’s Head of Marketing as new MD – Ireland

Tesco Mobile UK’s Head of Marketing, Noel Burrows, has moved from the operator he was instrumental in launching across the Irish Sea to head up the Irish equivalent.

Noel Burrow, the new Managing Director of Tesco Mobile Ireland, commented: “This is a fantastic opportunity and I am looking forward to the challenge of making Tesco Mobile Ireland as successful and appealing a brand as in the UK.”

Both ventures are joint ventures between Tesco Plc and the country specific o2 operations.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Lycamobile has another bumpy week – The Netherlands

Lycamobile’s Dutch operation is still suffering from the move away from T-Mobile to Vodafone. Users of the service this week experienced network outages which Vodafone have been actively trying to address. The MNO has offered public support to Lycamobile reaffirming that this was a technical issue which has been addressed rather than a 2nd front in the MVNOs battle with T-Mobile.

In a further development to the legal dispute with T-Mobile, the MNO has successfully submitted a claim in the Hague (court) against Lycamobile for EUR 38.5 million. This represents an amount plus legal costs which T-Mobile states the MVNO owes it for unpaid same network minutes.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Page Plus adds some international roaming – USA

Page Plus Cellular has added limited roaming while abroad to its offering. The countries where the service can be accessed are Mexico, Canada, and the island territories of Bermuda, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

The international roaming rate for calls within Mexico and Bermuda is USD 1.10 per minute. Calls within Canada, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are USD 0.60 per minute. Calls originating in the USA bound for Puerto Rico will remain at the current rate of USD 0.12 per minute and USA calls to Mexico and Canada will remain at USD 0.34 per minute.

SMS rates within these countries will be USD 0.50 per message sent and USD 0.25 per message received. The international text messaging rate for messages originating in the USA will remain USD 0.20 per message.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Neglected regions to get Magyar MVNO (Postafon) – Hungary

Magyar Posta, the state owned national postal service for Hungary, has become the latest MVNO to launch. The service partners with Vodafone to target geographic regions where there are no existing sales outlets for mobile services. The move will see Magyar target what are potentially new customers to the market who have been previously neglected by the main players due to insufficient potential returns. By utilising its existing branch network the roll out cost to Magyar is similar to adding a product to its shelves, compared to MNOs having to employ staff and rent retail outlets. The service will be available at over 700 of Magyar’s branches.

The launch of Magyar will also be Hungary’s first MVNO with the closest alternative non-MNO being djuice, a brand of Pannon (Telenor) which is an MNO. This launch is unlikely to open the flood gates to MVNOs due to the MNOs fears of cannibalisation of their existing client bases. The key to this launch is the regional targeting of areas without mobile outlets, which should see new business rather than churned business. The service is only targeting 70,000 subscribers in 2010.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Samart predicts MVNO revenue to be 10% of its total in 2010 – Thailand

Having gained a 5 year MVNO licence from the National Telecommunications Commission, Samart is still expecting a market launch for its MVNO in December. The company will launch mobile services as Samart I-Mobile (SIM – that will get confusing) on TOT’s coming 3G network in Bangkok.

The future MVNO is also Samart Corps handset division and the company is looking for 2010 to be a comeback year for the division, based on a predicted 20% revenue growth. The MVNO will retail both its I-Mobile phone and other handsets from mainstream manufacturers. The company expects 10% of its 2010 revenue to come as a result of SIM’s activities.

Entaz MVNO, not really – South Korea

The Korea Herald reported that MNO KT Corp signed a deal to allow for the country’s first MVNO launch as early as January 2010. At this stage however it looks like the local news service has mistaken an advanced mobile application / content provider for an MVNO service.

Entaz will provide KT subscribers with a portal to download mobile content from and the cost of accessing the portal will be paid by the end user directly to Entaz. They are not offering a mobile service which would negate the need for the KT subscription, nor are they offering messaging, voice or any form of access to the KT network. They also do not provide SIM cards or handsets. This would be an MVNO in the loosest of possible terms. If users were able to access the portal with no subscription to any of the MNOs then this would be more akin to an MVNO, but at this stage this is not an MVNO.

However, this is a good sign for consumers in South Korea. It is a move towards opening up the mobile market beyond the control of the 3 MNOs. It is perhaps also an intelligent route for KT to have followed as it appeases the regulator to some degree while not providing for any attack and churn on its core revenues.

Simple Mobile launches – USA

Another MVNO has launched in the US. This time with the offer of no frills, no contracts, a simple offering … yes, another no frills MVNO. In the last edition of The MVNO Directory we tracked over 50 US MVNOs. Since then there have been other launches and some failures. There has also been a surge for unlimited tariff offerings by both MNOs and MVNOs which also seems to be Simple’s unique selling point.

So, how does Simple see their offering in this very saturated market where unlimited tariffs are already on offer and no frills SIM card MVNOs have been active for many years already? Their press release states: “Simple, [is] offering the nation an unheard of SIM card program that instantly delivers affordable, unlimited access with everything wireless has to offer. Unlike other programs with corporate agendas, Simple Mobile customers are encouraged to B.Y.O.P. (Bring Your Own Phone). OMG! This is a game changer.”


The offer is nothing new to the market and will not change any ‘games’, see a similar operation talked about below, Page Plus. It will be incredibly hard for Simple to gain market share without being aggressive in their marketing.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Carrefour Telecom to increase capital – Taiwan

Carrefour’s MVNO operation in Asia is looking to increase its paid in capital from USD 1.86 million to USD 6.2 million (NT$ 60 million to NT$ 200 million). The first stage of capital-raising will happen before the close of 2009 bringing the total to NT$120 million, the remaining NT$ 80 million is to be raised in 2010.

The company is seeking finances to expand its presence across Asia; the expectation is that China and South East Asian countries will be primary targets. At this stage it is not clear whether Carrefour will seek new MVNO ventures or if they are planning a marketing campaign across the region to encourage roaming usage.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Telecom hots up wholesale market – New Zealand

The MVNO market in New Zealand is about to step up from its initial probing stage to a full blown MVNO market. Both of the country’s MNOs (Telecom NZ and Vodafone) have opened up their networks to MVNOs and Telecom are about to take it a step further by allowing its CDMA MVNO partner, and others, to soon access their new WCDMA network.

Telecom’s Wholesale General Manager of Marketing, Nick Clarke commented: “Making our WCDMA mobile network available at wholesale is very exciting. It will provide the first opportunity for New Zealand telecommunications retailers to source a full range of the most advanced wholesale solutions from one supplier.”

Current CDMA MVNO, Digital Island’s General Manager, Blair Stewart added, “Telecom’s new mobile network has been very well received and by all accounts is performing brilliantly. To have the opportunity to offer a mobile product of this calibre and capability to our customers nearly a year earlier than expected is excellent news.”

At this stage the quantity of MVNOs each MNO will partner is impossible to tell, but with both MNOs showing a green light for ventures this could result in a race to sign up any feasible and worthwhile offering presented to them (rejecting an MVNO offer could be pushing an asset to their competitor).

Page Plus Cellular lowers rates – USA

Starting 16th November 2009 Page Plus Cellular is lowering its tariff. For its highest volume selling recharge rate, of USD 10, this result in subscribers receiving 100 minutes of call time as opposed to 83 minutes (the per minute rate has dropped from USD 0.12 to 0.10).

Dean McDowell, Page Plus Cellular's Chief Financial Officer, commented: "Last month we introduced our Talk n Text 1,200 plan, which provides 1,200 voice minutes, 1,200 text or picture messages, and 50 megabytes of data for just USD 29.95 a month. Prior to that, in August, we came out with our enormously successful Unlimited Talk n Text plan for USD 39.95 a month. Those two monthly prepaid cell phone bundle plans offer tremendous savings for our customers. Now we're extending that value to our Standard Plan and lowering the per-minute charge for the majority of our customers."

Page Plus Cellular is a prepaid MVNO with nationwide coverage. The company started services as a pager business before the market moved away from these devices to mobile handsets.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

5 to launch before 2010 – Thailand

State owned MNO, TOT, is in the process of preparing a 3G network launch in Bangkok. In an effort to ramp up subscriber numbers to ensure a positive return on investment against the network build out cost, TOT has been looking to develop partner relationships. The Bangkok Post has identified the following five companies as being likely partners which will also go live in December: Loxley Plc, Samart I-Mobile Plc, 365 Communication, IEC International and M Consultant Corporation

However, each MVNO must first receive its licence from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC). At this stage only Samart has a licence with the others needing to apply and to successfully receive their licences before they can launch MVNO services.

H-Mobile wants to be an MVNO – Israel

Following on from the bad news for Netvision, H-Mobile has approached the Ministry to discuss how it will obtain its MVNO licence. H-Mobile is owned by Home Center (DIY) Ltd which is a subsidiary of Fishman Holdings.

Reports by Globes confirm that H-Mobile’s Chief Executive Officer, Udi Meartzi, has directly confirmed to them that it his intention for the company to become an MVNO. Globes state that the company is already in the planning stage and that they have been working with an international consultancy firm to assist with the MVNO business plan. At this stage we do not have details of whom they intend to partner with or what services they intend to offer to subscribers.

Geodesic potential MVNO – India

DNA India has reported that Geodesic Information Systems Ltd is keen to become an MVNO allowing them to diversify their business model. Geodesic is currently a mobile applications developer. In Singapore the company has also just been licensed to provide IP telephony services, which it too plans to roll out in India.

Kiran Kulkarni, Managing Director, Geodesic Information Systems Ltd, is quoted saying: “MVNO is an interesting option that we are looking into. We have products in the value added services (VAS) space. With airtime we would complete the stack."

Cherry Mobile launches seamless WiFi and GSM switching – Belgium

Mondial Telecom’s MVNO, Cherry Mobile, has signed up to use Comverse’s GSM and WiFi solution. The service works by switching between WiFi hotspots and normal GSM network coverage depending on whether the cheaper to use WiFi facility is available. Comverse’s Netcentrex IP Communications solution makes it so the user’s handset switches between the two technologies seamlessly.

Bernard Noël de Burlin, Chief Executive Officer of Mondial Telecom, said: “Comverse has been a valuable partner in this innovative project by enhancing the intelligence of the network to offer affordable mobile services over a unified network with user transparency. The Comverse Netcentrex hosted service is at the heart of our strategy to innovate into the mobile market and by doing so, become a differentiating mobile service provider. Both our business model and the technical know-how of Comverse were critical success factors for this launch.”

Lionel Chmilewsky, Chief Executive Officer of Netcentrex IP Communications at Comverse also commented: “This innovative technical FMC solution is an excellent example of how IP Communications expands the telecommunications business model. Our hosted IP Communications model, together with the robust, high-quality Comverse Netcentrex solution, lowers the technical and financial risk and the high entry cost for service providers to provide voice services.”

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

FRiENDi’s Sri Lankan clients to see prices fall - Oman

FRiENDi Mobile, the immigrant focused low cost MVNO, has found yet another overseas partner in its drive to bring down calling costs. Dialog Telekom and FRiENDi Mobile have entered into an agreement which will allow the two operators’ subscribers to call each others networks at a lower cost than before – both now offer the lowest market rate for such calls.

Supun Weerasinghe, Chief Executive Officer of Dialog, said: "Our partnership with FRiENDi mobile is an important step in our efforts to connect Sri Lankans overseas, as well as their friends and family back home. In addition to preferential call rates, both Dialog and FRiENDi will leverage this partnership to introduce value-added options that would enrich the mobile experience of customers in Oman and home. We are excited to be partnering with FRiENDi mobile, and we look forward to a successful partnership in the years ahead."

Antti Arponen, Chief Executive Officer for FRiENDi said: “Teaming up with Dialog is part of the focus of FRiENDi Mobile to serve people with a piece of their heart abroad, i.e. expatriates and nationals with an international element to their life. Providing Oman-based customers with value for money is our key aim when it comes to the Reach Out program, and we are continuing rolling out partnerships with mobile operators in Asia and elsewhere until we have all relevant countries covered."

Lycamobile grows and gets legal – Europe

This week European pre-paid MVNO Lycamobile announced that it had connected its 5 millionth subscriber (across all operations). Commenting on the figure, Chief Executive Milind Kangle stated that the company would carry its brand values forward into new markets.

Within the same week Lycamobile has further deepened its legal fight against T-Mobile Netherlands. Following a switch of MNO partner, Lycamobile subscribers have had difficulty in porting their numbers from the old network to the new. This week Lycamobile successfully won an initial legal case in The Hague, the result being that Lyca has been allowed to levy a prejudgement seizure against T-Mobile for EUR 15 million.

Netvision and others can not be MVNOs - Israel

Israel’s Ministry of Communications has been publically criticised by Netvision due its new policy on MVNOs which bar companies like Netvision from launching as MVNOs.

The problem for Netvision rests with it being a sister company to Celcom. In an effort to ensure true competition the regulator has stated that companies already in possession of licensed mobile spectrum may not launch their own MVNOs. This will stop what is a common wheeze as performed in Europe where MNOs launch new mobile brands and market them as being MVNOs; thus fooling the consumer into thinking they have bought the services of a different company from the known MNOs. As is the case with recently launched GiffGaff; the latter has been trumpeted as a new MVNO which heralds the way forward for a consumer run and consumer owned and operated network, but it is in fact owned and operated by o2.

In a Globes article, Richard Hunter, Chief Executive Officer at Netvision is quoted saying that the situation is illogical. The illogical part we are struggling to understand is why Netvision needs to be an MVNO. If they are in fact sister company to Celcom then there is nothing stopping Celcom from launching a branded offer for Netvision.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

TracFone rolls into Maryland – USA

In a further extension to its free phone for the poor government backed campaign, TracFone Wireless has made the scheme available to up to 400,000 residents of Maryland. The scheme is known as SafeLink Wireless and is now active in 19 states across the US.

Explaining how the offer works, Jose Fuentes, Director of Government Relations for TracFone, said: “We have based our entire [SafeLink] business model on the USD 10 subsidy we're able to get in most states to provide this service.” The USD 10 is paid out of the Federal Communications Commission's Universal Service Fund. The funds purpose is to increase access to telecommunications services in poor communities where access to such services simply would not occur otherwise.

5,000 Autopage clients billed in error – South Africa

Following what has been described as a database corruption, Altech Autopage Cellular incorrectly billed 5,000 of their 380,000 subscribers.

The company sells mobile subscriptions for all the MNOs in South Africa on a reseller basis but retains the management of the client relationship, including billing. Due to the database error the company incorrectly sent a duplication of the previous month’s accounts to be debited to the customers’ banks. Once the error had been realised Altech contacted the banks to have the debits cancelled, which in the majority of cases worked. 5,000 clients were billed for their previous month’s usage and as a result have not paid the correct balance. This figure included some clients who had cancelled their service and already paid their final bill.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Hits reported as bust but denies this – Spain

According to reports quoted as being from Movilonia, Hits Telecom has ceased their operation in Spain. The firm launched services in November of last year after acquiring a majority interest in Metrored Mobile. It is further alleged that the operator has been unable to pay its suppliers.

Counter to this the operator says the report is in error and visiting the company’s website there is still an operational business.

Friday, 30 October 2009

GTEQ launches new B2B MVNO promotion – United Kingdom

GTEQ, formerly KCC Global Telecoms, has launched a new MVNO promotion to its dealer network. The firm already operates services for Toni & Guy, NSK, Diadora and Sedulo.

According to MobileNews the firm already has 50 dealers within its network and as looking to increase this amount to 80 in the short term and 250 within 2 years. GTEQ are seeking 20,000 active MVNO SIM customers.

Dealers receive a profit share based on 4 bandings. Band one receive 50% of monthly profits for revenues of up to GBP 50,000. Band two dealers receive 60% of profits on revenues between GBP 50,000 and GBP 100,000. Band three dealers receive 75% of profits on revenues between GBP 100,000 and GBP 250,000. Band four dealers receive 90% of profits for revenues exceeding GBP 250,000.

GTEQ Managing Director, Karl McCaffrey, was quoted saying: "We are a solutions company but we want to attract mobile dealers who want to add something extra to their kit bag. We seized the opportunity to use the SIM product to increase our own brand, or allow larger resellers to rebrand the SIM."

7-Eleven pulls out of Ottawa – Canada

The Ottawa Citizen has reported that 7-Eleven has pulled out of Ottawa entirely. The move means that all retail premises previously occupied by 7-Eleven are to be taken over by Quickie, a similar convenience store. No big story there, but for 7-Elevel mobile customers in Ottawa it apparently is. From now on to top up their mobile minutes they will have to leave Ottawa to do so as they can only get more minutes in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.

Surprisingly (in fact, ludicrously) SpeakOut Wireless subscribers are not able to top up via their mobile or online, something we had to confirm by reading their FAQ section.

“Q: Where can I purchase SpeakOut Wireless Airtime?”

“A: Participating 7-Eleven Stores in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. On-line or telephone airtime purchases are not available.”

It seems that a mass churn is going to occur from 7-Eleven’s plan for this part of Canada.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

PlatinumTel expands operation – USA

Arizona, Ohio, South Carolina and Texas are now covered by the retail footprint of PlatinumTel Wireless. The MVNO launched services in 2002 after forming in 2001. The company uses the Sprint network for its infrastructure access and operates a nationwide network as a result.

Telenet launches Walk and Talk 20 – Belgium

Telenet has launched a new mobile offering for EUR 20 per month. Subscribers to the service will receive roughly 2 hours of talktime as part of the offering. Certain handsets are also available with this offer priced at EUR 1. By opting not to receive a handset a EUR 10 per month discount is applied.

Telenet are primarily a cable operator, which have just posted a Q3 2009 profit of EUR 154.8 million, up from a forecasted EUR 151 million.

MTT gets licensed – Russia

According to local sources, MTT has received licensing approval to form a new country wide MVNO. The new service is expected next year but it is still unclear what shape the MVNO will take, specifically whether it will be an MVNE or a direct to consumer operation.

MVNOs are not actually new to Russia but in comparison to the size of the country and the potential market they are massively under represented. The lack of regulatory guidance and a complicated operating environment has made any MVNO activity difficult. To be noted is that not even all of Russia’s big MNOs are active across the entire region as the country is broken down into political regions for which a separate licence is required. As a country too the conditions of operating in one region can be massively different to another in terms of wealth, ethnicity of the local people and at a basic level their living conditions.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Tele2 France being bought out by Virgin Mobile – France

Virgin Mobile, a joint operation between the Virgin Group and the Carphone Warehouse, has agreed to purchase Tele2 Mobile France from the Tele2 Group. The deal follows a selling off of mobile assets by Tele2 in Austria, Belgium, Denmark and Spain, with further withdrawals from other markets.

Charles Dunstone, Chief Executive Officer of Carphone, commented: "The Tele2 France deal marks a major step forward in Virgin Mobile's growth plans in France and will help it progress towards its target of being profitable during 2010 and its ambition of having more than 2m customers."

The deal has been valued at EUR 56 million and will mean a transferring of 429,000 subscribers onto Virgin Mobile. Carphone’s own estimates, according to the Financial Times, are that this will fall to 385,000 new subscribers to Virgin Mobile by completion.

Megacable suggests MVNO in “the very, very close future” – Mexico

Raymundo Fernandez, General Manager of Megacable has stirred up the market again with interest in a quad-play offer from the company. In a recent conference call he is quoted as saying: "In quadruple play, we are still looking at an MVNO model with one of the actual players. You might find something about that in the near future. The very, very close future."

Without a network partner the intention of becoming an MVNO is no more than an ideal. Companies across the world have discovered that this can be a long process and until an operator decides to open up then there is little choice but and potentially sweeten the deal for the MNO at the cost of the viability of the MVNO.

Fernandez did go on to discuss the potential of Megacable also bidding for its own spectrum. Recent research by The MNO Directory for Q4 2008 found 4 companies already competing in this space. The 4th place MNO with 3.5 million subscribers only held a 4.5% market share in comparison to market heavy weight Telcel, with over 50 millions subscribers.

FRiENDi signs 100,000 subscriber and drops charges – Oman

Recent entrant to the Middle-East mobile market, FRiENDi Mobile has signed up its 100,000th subscriber. The MVNO launched services in April via Oman Mobile and targets both the value market and the immigrant workforce.

Commenting to CommsMEA, Mikkel Vinter, Group Chief Executive Officer of FRiENDi said: "We've moved into the six digit territory and that's about 3% market share in just short of six months. Things have been a bit quiet over the summer but we are starting to see things pick up again. Things will find a level at some point but we're seeing solid growth and are optimistic of moving deeper into six digit territory.”

This week the MVNO also announced it was reducing evening rate call charges for international calls made to Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.

USD 5 million and you can be an MVNO – Pakistan

The PTA (Pakistan Telecommunications Authority) has announced that MVNOs may be licensed at the cost of USD 5 millions. This will provide the operator with a 10 year authorisation to provide mobile services as an MVNO.

This decision forms part of the PTA’s new document, “Framework for MNVO services in Pakistan.” The document sets out how MVNOs will be brought into the market and provides guidelines as well as procedure.

Once an MVNO and MNO have agreed terms they must both approach the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan for permission to enter into such an agreement contractually. Significant changes to the agreement must also be ratified by the SEC and successful MVNOs may not build out their own infrastructure.

AENOM (The Association of New Spanish Operators) formed – Spain

Spain’s new mobile operators have formed their own association which will represent their interests by presenting a united force as opposed to many small players fighting for their rights against the bigger MNOs.

The following MVNOs are represented by AENOM (Asociación Española de Nuevos Operadores Móviles – The Association of New Spanish Operators): Digimobil, fonYou, Happy Móvil, Hist Mobile, KPN’s Simyo and blau, MASmovil and Pephone.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

MÁSMovil create Yelou and lowers rates – Spain

Spanish discount MVNO MÁSMovil has launched its own online portal, Yelou (http://www.yelou.es). The site offers a downloadable mobile game for those who subscribe to its service and also offers social networking application integration. Subscribers can also earn minutes towards their mobile for inviting their social network friends to join Yelow, which in turn will be promoting MÁSMovil.

Maini Spenger has also been announced as the dual President and Chief Executive Officer of the operator following a rights issue which raised EUR 2.7 million.

Also reported this week is a reduction in charges by MÁSMovil. From the 6th November subscribers will receive both cheaper call and increased same network minuters. Pepephone has also announced similar changes.

Friday, 23 October 2009

giffgaff to launch sharing service – United Kingdom

A new MVNO is coming to the UK for December this year. The company’s site refers to itself or possibly their members as ‘giver-taker-talker-makers’. It seems that the service aims to bring people together to share and exchange in an effort to develop a network.

giffgaff will operate over O2’s network and proposes to sell SIM cards online. The MVNO does not intend to offer handsets so members will have to buy one from another retailer or use an existing handset. The unique selling point will be its members’ involvement with how the network operates. Their site states: “You’ll get the opportunity to do loads (if you want to), from designing the marketing to recruiting new members – and we’ll reward you for it.” Members will also be able to “yik, yak and give back”, a form of free credit we believe.

Apparently giffgaff is an old Scottish term for mutual giving, according to giffgaff.

Cyfrowy Polsat moving on to quad-play – Poland

According to Wirtualne Media, Cyfrowy Polsat is ready to move onto quadruple-play services in 2010. The report quotes Dominik Libicki, President of Cyfrowy Polsat, as stating the company will begin trialling Internet services in Q1 2010. The company will then look to add fixed line communications towards the end of 2010.

Virgin and Numericable drop 3G licence plans – France

The bidding deadline for the upcoming 3G licence auction closes tomorrow and according to Reuters only one contender remains, Iliad. Numericable and Virgin Mobile have both dropped out of the process citing unfavourable regulation and lack of clarity over costs as being their main reasoning.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Tchibo mobil – Germany

Sybase 365 announced that it has expanded its existing mCommerce partnership with O2 in Germany, to offer an innovative ‘hybrid’ mobile airtime topup solution. The service was launched last month to subscribers of Tchibo mobil, one of Germany’s leading MVNOs.

Following a one-time registration of bank details, subscribers are able to topup mobile airtime via SMS or the Web, and payment is processed through direct debit to the registered bank account. By sending an SMS with keyword “LOAD” to a dedicated short-code, the airtime is directly added to the subscriber’s mobile device. Topup is equally possible via the Web, through a dedicated customer portal where subscribers can also choose to subscribe to monthly automatic airtime topup on an arbitrary date.

For the hybrid topup solution, Sybase 365 has linked its mCommerce Mobiliser platform and services tightly to the O2 systems. For example with the CRM-System, Sybase 365 handles all transactions and data between the customer portal interface, the bank clearinghouse and the mobile provider. In addition to payment, billing and registration, Sybase 365 offers operations support functionality as well as customised Risk and Limit Management.

Eckart Kurze, Managing Director of Tchibo mobil Germany, commented: “By providing a hybrid solution, we offer our customers greater flexibility and easier access to fast topup possibilities.”

Matthew Talbot, Vice President of mCommerce at Sybase 365, commented: “Mobile Operators and MVNOs require a low-cost, rapid entry topup solution with a high security level. This innovative solution is another milestone in further strengthening the mCommerce movement, by offering solutions that cater both to a subscriber’s increasingly mobile lifestyle, and that increase ARPU and improve customer retention for the Operator.”

Ekofon partners DIGITALK – Mexico

Ekofon, which is currently in talks to establish as an MVNO, have selected the DIGITALK Multiservice Platform (MSP) to offer enhanced services in the USA and Mexico. The company had already signed up for DIGITALK’s Prepaid Mobile solution for their future MVNO.

Victor Trevino, President of Ekofon, comments: “We were initially looking for a solution that was strong on wholesale with the ability to deliver prepaid retail as secondary. DIGITALK’s reputation as leaders in the prepaid calling card markets brought them to our attention and after evaluating eight solutions in total, the DIGITALK range of services, the speed of deployment, and being able to consolidate platform management was an unbeatable proposition.”

Mark Ashdown, DIGITALK’s EVP of Sales and Marketing added: “Ekofon’s service launch plan is exemplary of DIGITALK’s ability to support leading innovative service providers globally. This demonstrates that seizing the opportunities rapidly pays dividends and we look forward to seeing Ekofon develop in these expanded markets.”

Monday, 19 October 2009

Consumer Cellular joins senior handset market – USA

Doro has secured an agreement with Consumer Cellular to sell and market on an exclusive basis two of Doro's handsets. The phones have been developed in accordance with seniors' needs and requirements.

John Marick, President of Consumer Cellular, commented: "Market surveys tell us that American citizens over 60 feel that mobile phones generally have too many features. We also know from our own surveys that 62 percent of our customers prefer mobile phones with clear displays and large buttons. That's why we've chosen Doro as our partner. With its innovative and user-friendly mobile phones, Doro meets our customers' needs."

Jérôme Arnaud, Chief Executive Officer of Doro, added: "We are very satisfied with this agreement, which is entirely in line with our strategy of geographical expansion. It gives us immediate access to our primary target group, seniors, in the US market, which offers considerable market potential,"

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Tesco Mobile ramping up high street presence – United Kingdom

In effort to compete head on with Carphone Warehouse, Tesco Mobile plans to expand its 50 high street mobile stores into 100 by April 2010. The two companies both run their own MVNOs and actively sell third party offers. The Carphone Warehouse has a major UK high street presence selling pre and post paid mobile offering and also runs TalkTalk, a triple play offering. Tesco on the other hand does that too but also has a massive consumer supermarket presence with interested in food and beverages, clothing, electronics, finances, catalogue and Internet businesses and specifically to this story, telecoms.

Gamma starts dealer campaign – United Kingdom

Gamma is targeting 100 new dealers to sign up to its BrandBuilder white label offering. BrandBuilder enables dealers to basically design their own white label MVNO offering. By this the dealers are able to select their own tariffs and add-ons at the same time as passing the service off as their own.

Rob Davies, Senior Product Manager for Gamma commented: “We don’t believe in just sitting in our corporate headquarters expecting the channel be dictated to. We want to go on the road with our network partners at 3 so that we can listen to the channel and highlight the many opportunities that exist that can help them build their brand and value of their businesses.”

XOX passes 100,000 subscribers – Malaysia

The Malaysian National News Agency has reported that XOX, which only launched February this year, has passed the 100,000 subscriber mark. XOX launched services in February as a pre-pay offering on Celcom’s network and intended to add post-pay services in May.

XOX’s President, Ng Kok Heng said: “This very much shows that we are on the right track with providing our target market what they want and need and it is definitely a very good beginning for us.”

The company now moves on to its target of 200,000 subscribers by the close of the year.

Nashua Mobile launches EasiSolutions – South Africa

Nashua Mobile has established a new division (EasiSolutions) as part of its drive to improve customer service. Through partnerships with providers such as Vodacom Business, MTN Network Solutions, Neotel and Internet Solutions, EasiSolutions will provide a range of services to Nashua Mobile customers. As part of this offering, service agents will be able to offer applicable services suited to the individual needs of each business.

Doug Mattheus, Marketing Director at Nashua Mobile, commented: “The reasons for Nashua Mobile’s success are our relentless focus on customer service, the fact that we offer customers a wide range of solutions customised to their needs, and our ability to adapt to rapid changes in the fast-paced telecommunications industry.”

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Lebara becomes exclusive partner of WHSmith – United Kingdom

Lebara Mobile has secured an exclusive partnership with WHSmith. Lebara Mobile’s SIM cards are the only International Pay-As-You-Go SIM cards being sold by WHSmith for the next 12 months in its 554 ‘high street’ outlets and 312 ‘travel’ stores across England, Scotland and Wales.

Russell Atkinson, Managing Director for Lebara Mobile UK, commented: “WHSmith has been a household name since 1828 with 70% of the UK’s population visiting its stores each year. The wealth of its store locations, particularly the travel stores in airports, ports and railway stations, makes this a really exciting development for us and, most importantly, for our customers who regularly need to make low-cost international calls on the move. We are delighted to be working with WHSmith and are confident that our partnership will prove long and mutually beneficial.”

Spreefone may have closed – Germany

Teltarif.de is reporting that Spreefone, a discount service provider has stopped accepting new business. The company’s website is redirecting orders so that they can not be completed and telesales agents are not taking orders. In simple terms, this would indicate that Spreefone has ceased.

Crazy John’s CEO steps down – Australia

Although no longer an MVNO and now a part of Vodafone, it is to be noted that the Chief Executive Officer in charge at Crazy John’s has chosen to retire.

In an e-mail to staff, Brendan Fleiter said: “After being part of the team at Crazy John's for 13 years, the time has come for me to 'pass the baton', so on the 30th October I will retire as chief executive of Crazy John's."

SkyBitz taps into KORE Telematics – USA

SkyBitz is expanding its solution suite to include cellular based GPS tracking options. Leveraging the network of KORE Telematics the new suite of SkyBitz solutions will include both GSM and CDMA capable devices. The agreement with KORE now enables SkyBitz to provide a single source for M2M solutions.

Homaira Akbari, Chief Executive Office of SkyBitz commented: "With this new offering, SkyBitz offers a broader range of solutions to address customers’ immediate needs and to empower them to improve and grow their businesses. The convergence of these technologies also unlocks even more opportunities for innovation as remote asset management continues to expand into new applications and markets."

According to The MVNO Directory, KORE Telematics access the networks of both AT&T and Verizon in the USA and Rogers in Canada.

Straight Talk from Wal-Mart – USA

Wal-Mart is planning to fully launch its own MVNO offering. The retailer looks set to launch a pre-pay offering which will sell out of its 3,200 nationwide store network. Within the USA Wal-Mart is a major retailer and house hold name. The service was piloted in over 200 stores to test its viability; having passed this test the full commercial roll out is beginning just in time for the holiday season.

Greg Hall, Vice President of Media Services for Wal-Mart USA, was quoted saying "It has been very encouraging to see the excitement and response to the Straight Talk pilot in 234 stores that began last summer at Wal-Mart. In light of the savings customers continue to need, we have worked very quickly to extend this offering to all of our Wal-Mart customers nationwide, and just before the holidays."

The service is being operated in cooperation with TracFone, which is América Móvil’s incredibly successful operation in the USA.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Lycamobile signs Sainsbury’s and a new head of legal – United Kingdom

According to mobile news, Lycamobile has completed its distribution deal with Sainsbury’s. The deal will mean that Sainsbury’s will begin to stock Lycamobile SIM cards in its stores. To assist with the launch Lycamobile are hosting promotion stands in 10 car parks of selected stores.

Rob Beswick, Head of Marketing for Lycamobile is quoted saying: "We are delighted to work with Sainsbury's and with their network of more than 150 retailers, consumers will have even greater access to convenient places where they can purchase a SIM card and top-up their credit."

Also reported this week was the recruitment of Stephen Lodge as Head of Legal for Lycamobile. Hodge comes from Virgin Mobile where he was also Head of Legal.

BILDMobil launched m-Internet tariff – Germany

German discount MVNO BILDMobil has launched a new tariff to provide a mobile Internet service. The USB access device costs EUR 49.95 as a one off start up cost and access is provided via Vodafone’s UMTS network. Access to the service costs EUR 0.59 for 30 minutes, EUR 0.99 for 1 hour of access and EUR 6.99 for 7 days access (days run consecutive). Each period is limited to just 1 GB of data allowance.

Orange signs Transatel – United Kingdom

European MVNA, Transatel Solutions, has been signed up by Orange UK to win new MVNO businesses to the network. The deal will allow Transatel to become the facilitator between Orange and MVNO start ups without the two parties having to enter into direct agreements. The new offering will allow starts ups to launch within 6 weeks of signing terms with Transatel.

Marc Overton, Orange UK’s Vice President of New Business, Wholesale and Strategy commented: "Our overarching ambition at Orange is to become the network partner of choice for new and existing MVNOs. By partnering with Transatel, we hope to achieve this aim by broadening the availability, ease and speed with which companies and brands of all sizes and from all sectors can become an MNVO partner of ours and enter the exciting mobile arena."

Jacques Bonifay, Transatel’s Chief Executive Officer commented: "We've already launched our MVNA business model in France and Belgium, and we are delighted to be partnering with Orange to expand our offering in the UK. We believe we are the right partner for companies that want to launch their own mobile offering under their own brand in a cost-effective way."

Sunday, 11 October 2009

FRiENDi Mobile sponsors Oman Explorer – Oman

Local guide, the Oman Explorer, which is a publication aimed at new residents to Oman is to be sponsored by FRiENDi Mobile.

Alistair MacKenzie, Publisher of Explorer Publishing commented: “We are pleased to be associated with FRiENDi Mobile for our 4th Edition of the Oman Explorer. Oman is an excellent choice for expats and tourists alike, and it made sense to work closely with a popular telecom provider, that ensures expatriates are well connected.”

Antti Arponen, Chief Executive Officer of FRiENDi Oman commented: “Anyone coming to Oman will require 3 things: an Oman guide, an Oman map and a FRiENDi mobile starter pack. We are delighted to be working in partnership with Explorer publishing to bring the people in Oman what they need.”

Friday, 9 October 2009

Cofetel Commissioner looks for new MVNOs in 2010 – Mexico

Disappointed with the lack of competition in the Mexican mobile market, Cofetel’s Commissioner Jose Luis Peralta has been quoted by Total Telecom as promising changes to current MVNO legislation. New legislation is now expected for 2010 which will streamline the process for authorising an MVNO and resolve issues around porting numbers.

The Mexican mobile market is dominated by Telcel with a 72% market share as of Q4 2008. Although MVNOs are allowed in the country not one has launched commercially even though there are 3 other MNOs who could host them. In the 2nd half of 2008 number 2 MNO, Movistar, grew its subscriber base by over 1 million subscribers. This rate of growth potentially indicates that the 2nd place operator would rather win its own 100% business from Telcel rather than venture with MVNOs. The 3rd and 4th place operators seem to have their own network infrastructure issues to deal with too before they let MVNOs onboard. Nextel operates an iDEN network and IUSACell is in the process of building out a GSM network in favour of its current CDMA network. Any real movement in regard to MVNO launches will probably require a regulatory push aimed at Telcel.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Cablecom appoints new VP of Marketing – Switzerland

Quad-play provider Cablecom has appointed a new Vice President of Marketing and Product Management. Koen Verwee will take up the role in December. Verwee is currently Vice President of Market Development at Telenet Belgium.

Hans-Peter Nehmer, Director of Corporate Communications is also due to leave Cablecom at the end of 2009. Franco Gullotti will take up the vacated position in 2010.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Reb Bull goes online with potential MVNO – Austria

Red Bull’s Austrian division has bagged itself an online mobile offering at www.redbullmobile.com. The site is registered within Austria and references activities to be expected of an MVNO.

A more active operation can also be found at http://www.redbullmobile.at which details subscriber tariffs and claims to have 99% network coverage. What is apparent is that there is a new MVNO in Austria, currently though there is no news as to who the network partner or MVNE is when the service was launched (if it is definitely active).

MVNOs spreading for PLDT Global Corp – Asia and Europe

Napoleon Nazareno, President of PLDT, has been quoted by BusinessMirror, stating that there will be no more MVNO launches by the company until 2010. PLDT are reportedly working on deals in Japan, Macau, Taiwan and Europe, all of which are expected to be signed off within 2009. In Japan the service is being held up by regulatory issues.

As an MVNO PLDT targets Filipinos working abroad and is already active in Hong Kong, Singapore and Italy. The company hit USD 40 million in revenue last year and is targeting USD 60 million for 2009 having successfully launched in Italy.

mBank Mobile seeks to port subscribers in – Poland

Polish MVNO mBank Mobile ran a promotion from 6th October through to 12th October. Subscribers new to the network who ported in their numbers will receive special calling rates. Those benefitting from the offer will receive voice calls from 19 cents (USD 0.06), SMS for 10 (USD 0.04) cents, MMS for 20 cents (USD 0.07) and a free Internet package.

Friday, 2 October 2009

KT interested in BC Card – South Korea

Following reports in September that BC Card had shown interest in becoming an MVNO, iStockAnalyst have now reported that KT is looking to acquire BC Card in a deal with Hana Financial Group.

KT is one of the 3 MNOs operating in South Korea. This latest development would signal the end of credit card companies becoming MVNOs in the country. Once owned by KT the service would simply be a subsidiary offering by KT and not an MVNO. BC Cards are a South Korean credit card company.

Mazoon partners with Nawras – Oman

Mazoon Mobile has signed a deal with Omani MNO Nawras to use the latter’s mobile phone network to launch its mobile phone services in the country.

Jamil Ali Sultan, the chairman of Mazoon Mobile, stated that the company is ready for the launch of its services by the end of 2009 and to offer its subscribers high-quality services.

In July 2008, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of Oman awarded Class II MVNO licences for a duration of five year to five companies—Connect Arabia (FRiENDi Mobile), Injaz International, Kalam Telecommunications, Majan Telecom (Renna) and Mazoon Mobile.

Of the five licensees, FRiENDi Mobile was the first to launch its MVNO operations in the country. The company introduced its services in April 2009. FRiENDi uses the mobile phone network of Omantel to offer its services. Soon after, Majan Telecom launched its MVNO operations under the Renna brand in May 2009.

Mazoon’s Chief Executive Office, Mohamed Alhashili, has been quoted stating the service can be up and running within 40 days.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Vectone enters another market – United Kingdom

European MVNO Vectone has expanded its operation to include the United Kingdom. The operator already offers its services in Austria, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and Switzerland. The MVNO is a discount operation focused on selling SIMs with a budget offering. The UK operation will offer 5p calls and texts, 1p calls at weekends, free same network minutes and texts as well as GBP 5 for porting an existing number to the operator.

Richard Moat, T-Mobile UK’s Managing Director commented: "We are delighted to be supporting Vectone’s ambitious expansion plans for the UK market. The deal with Vectone signals our intent to become a major player in the ethnic MVNO arena. With international calling card minutes rapidly migrating to mobile, this is an excellent time to be forging new partnerships in a segment, which is showing signs of bucking the recession with strong projected growth rates. Vectone builds on our eight existing MVNO partnerships and underlines our ambitions to target new growth areas in the wholesale market."

Cubic Telecom subscribers to get access to Wi-Fi – Global

Global MVNE, Cubic Telecom, has signed a deal with Trustive which will provide its subscribers with access to a global Wi-Fi network.

Cubic focuses on the travel SIM market by offering cheaper roaming rates compared to MNOs. This new service will allow Cubic subscribers to have 3G Internet access when roaming and at a much lower cost than compared to MNO offerings. The Trustive network is a combination of over 70 Wi-Fi providers which as a unified service offers over 90,000 hotspot locations.

Cubic Telecom has roaming agreements with over 600 MNOs and active partnerships in Europe, the USA and Australia. Cubic Telecom provides services in 213 countries.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Gamma launches new dealer service – United Kingdom

Gamma Telecom has launched a new service for its dealers which allows them to retain ‘customer ownership’. Gamma operates over 3’s network and targets the enterprise sector. The new service is known as BrandBuilder. It allows Gamma’s dealers to sell packages to clients and then retain the relationship while Gamma operates the service. The service will allow dealers to pick how much they charge clients and ultimately how much they can make.

Richard Bligh, Marketing Director for Gamma Telecom commented: "Mobile dealers face many challenges where commissions are being cut and businesses are often being funded through cash backs. Add to this the inflexible nature of MNOs with fixed tariffs and minimum ARPU commitments, together with no direct customer ownership, and the situation is very difficult. BrandBuilder offers mobile dealers easy entry into the mobile market as Gamma is able to take care of all the back office and network service tasks."

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Lebara sponsors music awards – United Kingdom

The MOBO Organisation is teaming up with Lebara Mobil in a three-year sponsorship deal. MOBO champions diverse genres of music and has been successful in raising the profile of British artists. The partnership with MOBO provides a platform for Lebara Mobile to strengthen its links with multi-cultural customers. As part of the deal, Lebara Mobile will sponsor the Best UK Act category. Nominees include Chipmunk, Tinchy Stryder, N-Dubz and DJ Ironik.

MOBO Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Kanya King commented: “Both Lebara Mobile and MOBO are keen to connect with their target audiences throughout the UK and have a deep understanding of their respective cultures – MOBO reaching out through music and Lebara Mobile through bringing people closer together. Through these synergies, we are looking forward to a long and fruitful partnership for both parties.”

Lebara Mobile’s UK Managing Director, Russell Atkinson commented: “Lebara Mobile is very excited to be working with an organisation with such an impressive track-record. Through our partnership with MOBO, we will be able to communicate with our target market on a deeper level through the international language of music. By working closely with MOBO over the next three years, we are looking to develop and take both brands to the next level.”

Monday, 28 September 2009

Fecosur looking to launch soon – Brazil

A new MVNO under the banner Nusetro Movil is expected soon. The operation will be launched by Fecosur (a telecoms cooperative) and will be hosted on Telecom Personal’s network, according to El Cronista (local newspaper).

Pilot tests have been cited for Colonia Caroya, Rio Tercero, Villa Gesell, San Bernardo, Mar del Plata, Pergmanino, San Bernardo, Balcarce and Dolores. Completion of the trials period is expected Q1 2010.

Digitalk MVNO solution wins award – Global

Technology Marketing Corporation (TMC) has named DIGITALK Prepaid Mobile as a recipient of the 2009 Internet Telephony Excellence Award presented by Internet Telephony magazine. The DIGITALK Prepaid Mobile solution for MVNOs is the latest service-ready application available on the DIGITALK Multiservice Platform.

Justin Norris, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of DIGITALK commented: “The DIGITALK Prepaid Mobile solution was designed to address the saturated mobile market to allow MVNO to exploit niche opportunities utilising DIGITALK Next Generation technologies, and the uptake and interest received has been hugely successful. This award is further testimony to DIGITALK’s prepaid expertise delivering long term value in a complex and evolving market. I am naturally delighted at its success and esteemed recognition."

Sunday, 27 September 2009

FRiENDi gets two new investors – Middle East

The FRiENDi Group has announced a new equity investment by Oman based Dolphin International LLC and ePlanet Ventures. Dolphin is a privately owned Omani company established in 1985. The firm has a portfolio of investments in banking, infrastructure, education, healthcare, bio-technology, advertising, real estate, construction, surgical products and energy. ePlanet Ventures is a venture capital company with offices across Asia, North America and Europe. It has funded companies which include Baidu, Skype and Focus Media.

The amount raised from the new investors is undisclosed but is quoted by FRiENDi’s Chief Executive, Mikkel Vinter, as being greater than USD 10 million.

Vinter, commented: ”We have raised this additional double-digit USD millions equity to further improve our financial readiness for launching multiple MVNO operations in quick succession across the region, now we successfully have validated the MVNO model in the region with the launch of our operation in Oman. We are particularly pleased with both Dolphin International LLC and ePlanet Ventures being existing regional and local investors, so their additional investment that we have announced today is a sign of trust in the company and our business model”.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Lycamobile complains about T-Mobile – Netherlands

According to Trading Markets, the Dutch operation of Lycamobile has complained to the Dutch regulator regarding T-Mobile’s lack of cooperation over number portability.

The MVNO is in the process of switching host network from T-Mobile to Vodafone. The process involves new SIM cards being issued to Lyca’s subscribers and their numbers being ported away from the T-Mobile network to Vodafone’s. Lyca states that T-Mobile is simply taking too long to complete the process and alleges that over a specific week over 400 instances of delay occurred.

Virgin Mobile up 100,000 – France

In June Virgin Mobile launched a new set of call plans called Paradyse. Since the launch the operator claims that over 100,000 people have subscribed to it. Paradyse is made up of different plans ranging from a 1 hour commitment through to a EUR 89.90 per month unlimited plan. The operator has a goal of 2 million subscribers by 2010.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Primus enters into new contract with Rogers – Canada

Primus Telecommunications Canada has renewed its existing MVNO contract with Rogers Wireless and extended the depth of the agreement. The operator can now provide MVNO coverage to 94% of Canada. Primus claims that its subscribers will see service improvements from 2010.

Rob Warden, Vice President of Residential Marketing and Sales for Primus Canada, commented: “Primus is constantly striving to provide its customers with enhanced telecommunications services and the utmost in quality and service,” “Our expanded wireless offering meets our mobile customers’ needs and is a direct reflection of that commitment and focus.”

New Virgin chief sets ambitious agenda – South Africa

South African MVNO Virgin Mobile is looking to sign-up some 500,000 post-paid subscribers by mid-2011, helped by its recently introduced simplified tariffs, MyBroadband has reported.

The company claims to have doubled its post-paid subscriber base since the beginning of the year and now has around 230,000 active Virgin Mobile subscribers - a much lower figure than previously suggested by both insiders and analysts suggesting a pretty flat subscriber base of around 100,000 for the last two years.

The company is also getting closer to being cash-flow positive. Chief Executive, Steve Bailey, hopes that the company will move into the black within the next 12 months. Bailey is reported to be focusing on costs and has already reduced staff numbers from 450 to less than 200 claiming to have cut overheads by two thirds since taking over.

Bailey added that he is keen to reduce rates for all calls from Virgin Mobile and not just on-net or off-peak calls. High interconnect rates remain a problem and Bailey said he was pleased that the Government is dealing with the issue.

Virgin Mobile launched nationally in June 2006 and has experienced a series of leadership changes. Founding Chief Executive Sajeed Sacranie left at the end of November 2006 and was replaced by Peter Boyd. Boyd in turn left the following year and was replaced by current Chief Executive Steve Bailey.

Videotron signs Connectiva to prevent fraud – Canada

Videotron has signed up to use Connectiva’s ONEREViEW 5.0 platform. The integrated fraud and revenue management platform allows Videotron to monitor traffic over its wireless, Internet, and cable services. The service will help prevent revenue leakage and fraud vulnerabilities.

Yanic Brisson, Director of Revenue Assurance at Videotron, commented: “Connectiva was a logical choice for Videotron because of the options and the flexibility its application offers. With this solution, Videotron will be able to reduce fraud and will enhance the integrity of its billing chain.”

Connectiva Systems is a revenue management software company whose solutions enable telecom operators to reduce revenue leakage, minimise fraud, improve operational effectiveness and increase overall profitability.

Avi Basu, President and Chief Executive Officer of Connectiva Systems, commented: The first priority for Videotron will be to use ONEREViEW 5.0 to combat fraud and revenue leakage effectively, and increase accuracy in billing verification.”

Regulator receives 2 MVNO applications - Vietnam

VietNamNet Bridge has reported that FPT Telecom and Vietnam Multimedia Corporation (VTC) have both applied to the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) for permission to become MVNOs. The Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Le Nam Thang, commented that MIC will consider both applications and if they meet the ministry’s criteria they will get the licenses.

The two firms are leading IT technology firms in Vietnam and would join 7 other MNOs which are largely state owned as well as another MVNO, Indochina Telecom, which was licensed back in August of this year.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Lebara reduces fixed line prices to Eastern Europe – United Kingdom

In the run up to several national days in Europe, Lebara Mobile UK has launched a low cost calls offer to multiple Eastern Europe countries. One of which being the European Day of Languages on 26th September. The offer runs to the following countries; Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia and Slovakia.

Russell Atkinson, Lebara Mobile UK’s Managing Director commented: "Our service is particularly popular for calling the Eastern European countries and we have an extremely loyal customer following for this region. With the number of national events coming up, there will be a lot of people who want to call home. Our latest offer will enable these customers to stay in touch with friends and family for less."

Saturday, 19 September 2009

TuneTalk could overtake new MNO – Malaysia

NTT DoCoMo has pulled out of Malaysia 4th MNO, U Mobile, which only launched full commercial services back in April 2008. The Malaysian Star has analysed the market and sees MVNO TuneTalk as having a better business model and strategy than U Mobile. The article takes note of TuneTalk’s aggressive marketing campaign where the company has linked up with multiple budget industries for contra deals which place its offerings in front of a large cross section of mobile users.

The article rekindles the concept of MVNO launches being capable of being a success. Assuming a thorough marketing communications strategy has been planned out a new MVNO launch has the same potential as that of an MNO, just with different revenues and costs associated with the two forms of network.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Just Mobile’s tariff reduced – Australia

Just Mobile has launched ‘The Just 15 Prepaid Plan’. The plan provides calls at 15 cents per 30 second period with calls being billed per second with text messages also being charged at 15 cents per text.

ComTel’s (parent company to Just Mobile) Chief Operating Officer, Paul McFadden, commented: "We believe Just 15 is a timely offering for consumers fed up with having to commit to highly engineered cap plans for one or two years when all they want is cheap call and text capabilities as and when they need.”

The Just Mobile service operates over the Vodafone Australia network and is entirely owned by ComTel Corporation, which is fully Australian owned. ComTel was previously known as CommodiTel.

Marc Simoncini’s looking to start new French MVNO in 2010 – France

Le Journal has reported that a new MVNO is coming to France called COFITEL. The service is being founded by Marc Simoncini and Cédric Curtil. Simoncini brings online marketing expertise and Curtil brings a career from SFR, a French MNO.

The service is expected to be a budget MVNO with an intense marketing campaign at launch. Further details are not yet available.

The French MVNO market accounts for around 5% of the mobile market and already has budget players.

More legal challenges for Sprint’s Virgin Mobile buy out – USA

iPCS Wireless, Horizon Personal Communications and Bright Personal Communications Services have collectively filed a complaint at the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, against Sprint’s intended buy out of Virgin Mobile.

The collective argue that they have a contractual agreement with Sprint which bars the latter from directly competing against them within their territories. The three companies act as Sprint resellers. Individually each network owns a portion of the network which is classed as the Sprint network. The arrangement is similar to a domestic roaming agreement; the smaller networks are able to provide access to a nationwide network (Sprint) and in return the nationwide network need not build out base stations where the small networks operate, but can still provide improved coverage for its direct subscribers.

The difference with the Virgin Mobile network is that Virgin being an MVNO had no network but still resold services anywhere across the US. With the continuation of the Virgin service but owned by Sprint, it would indeed see a Sprint owned operation effectively break these non-competitive agreements.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Lower interconnect rates would assist MVNOs – South Africa

Virgin Mobile South Africa, which still refuses to provide statistical data about the performance of their African MVNO, has commented positively regarding the Portfolio Committee on Communications move to lower interconnect rates between operators within the country. It is expected that the committee will force a reduction in interconnection rates from 1st November 2009 to 60 cents per minute for peak rate calls. Further annual reduction will also be applied of 15 cents per minute until 2012, by which point the rate will have fallen to 15 cents per minute.

While the move will hit the profits of the biggest operators the most, Virgin Mobile, which is believed to have a minority 4th place market share, positively commented on the move. Virgin Mobile’s Chief Executive Officer, Steve Bailey, reportedly noted: “I am very pleased about [the] Government’s initiative to lower interconnect rates”. He went on to say that the high rates have been a market barrier to full competition and for new entrants to the telecoms market in South Africa and that the rates had a negative effect on Virgin’s own market entry.

Cell C’s Executive Head of Regulatory Affairs, Nadia Bulbulia, Virgin Mobile’s host network, also cheered the move noting that MTN and Vodacom had increased the interconnect rate by 500% just prior to Cell C’s launch.

Disney mobile content heading to Virgin Mobile users – United Kingdom

The Walt Disney Internet Group has been trying to make money out of mobile for a while. Most notably their biggest failures to date have been their MVNO ventures in the USA with Disney Mobile and separately ESPN Mobile. The former was to target tweens and children essentially based upon the power of Mickey Mouse and other characters’ brand. The latter was an attempt at basing a network around sports fans with the offer of video content and similar other features based around their need for on demand baseball, basketball, football, etc. Both services failed to attract sustainable subscriber levels and ultimately had a big impact on the decision to cancel a proposed UK Disney MVNO. Over in Japan however the love of cute small things has seen the Disney Mobile MVNO become a big profitable success with young female adults.

Disney has since pursued mobile ventures from a mobile content point of view and has now signed up with Virgin Media in what has been called a ‘three screens deal’. The venture simply means that Virgin Media customers will have on demand access to Disney media via TV, Internet and on the move via their mobiles. Virgin also provides a mobile broadband service therefore the Disney content will also be available via laptops on the go.

Boel Ferguson, Vice President and General Manager, Disney Channels UK and Ireland commented: “Our vision is to put choice in the hands of our viewers and allow them to access our content via as many potential platforms as possible - this new deal with Virgin Media helps make our vision a reality.”

Katharine Burns, Executive Director of Content Acquisition at Virgin Media said: “Virgin Media has been a pioneer in developing new TV services and our three screens deal with Disney is a perfect example of how driving innovation can benefit the consumer and enhance their viewing experience.”

Virgin Media also announced that Eamonn O'Hare has become their new Chief Finance Officer; he joins the company from Tesco.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Rumours lead to false hope of a BT and o2 MVNO – United Kingdom

Since selling its mobile network to o2, BT has made multiple attempts to succeed as an MVNO. The logic is that they have a substantial presence in the UK fixed line market, being the original monopoly holder, and that this should translate into fixed-mobile and triple-play business (multiple services from the one supplier).The reality is that consumer take up has been poor in response to each attempt.

Non-competitive pricing, a history of poor customer service, being too late for the gold rush and a lack of interest in fixed-mobile have all seen BT’s MVNO ventures fail (BT Fusion, BT Mobile).

Over the past week there has been industry speculation that BT would announce today their re-entry into the mobile market as an o2 MVNO. Fresh from BT’s newsroom is something else, non-MVNO. BT are going to work with o2 to allow the latter to sell fixed line services to enterprise markets using BT’s fixed line network. The statement made no mention of a mobile tie up, no MVNO.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Lycamobile partners O2 UK for roaming – United Kingdom

Lycamobile has signed with O2 to launch a new pre-pay SIM card offer, the new offering is expected Q409. The MVNO already partners with Orange for its existing operation and the new deal with O2 is not meant to affect this. The move will place Lycamobile into a position of having multiple network partners and may provide them with a stronger contractual position when negotiating terms with Orange and O2. At this stage there is no information as to which deal Lycamobile earns the better rate from and whether the company will equally push each brand.

Milind Kangle, Chief Executive Officer, Lycamobile commented: “We are delighted to announce the signing of this deal with O2. They have demonstrated a dedicated approach to this partnership and our deal will accelerate the success that the Lycamobile brand has already had in the UK. Thanks to the technical architecture Lycamobile has developed, we will be providing an enhanced low-cost, high-quality mobile service to our UK customers.”

Ben Dowd, O2 Business Sales Director, said: “This deal with Lycamobile offers us an exciting opportunity to work in a key growth market with the UK’s leading International MVNO partner.”

Yoigo and fixed line partners – Spain

Local news service Expansion, has reported that Yoigo is in communication with fixed line operators within the north of the country in regard to MVNO activity across the Yoigo network.

R, Telecable and Euskaltel are cited as being three of the companies Yoigo approached. The offering is thought to contain proposals of improved mobile network coverage within the fixed operators’ territories to improve network access and make customer acquisition easier. Yoigo are also offering an alternative partnership contract of a fixed fee instead of minutes of use.

This MVNO venture moves far beyond the discount service proposition. Yoigo is essentially looking to deploy new network infrastructure in locations where it will receive the most custom by doing so in a way that increases the chances of a successful take up, by accessing someone else’s related paying customer base.

iPod Nano offered by Simplicime – France

New subscribers signing up to Simplicime’s four hour calling plan will receive an eight GB iPod Nano. The contracts run for two years and are priced at EUR 29.90 per month. Subscribers to the service chose from either four hours of calling time per month or 360 text messages. Subscribers will also receive a Nokia 1209 as part of the contract. There is a one off cost of EUR 1 for the subscription.

Credit card companies want to be MVNOs – South Korea

The Korea Times has reported that credit card companies within South Korea are actively pursuing entry into the telecommunications market as MVNOs. Notably it pinpoints BC Card as being the most active in pursuing a mobile venture and even states the company has put aside USD 160 million for an MVNO.

Commenting on why credit card companies would be interested, an official from The Korea Communications Commission commented: "MVNOs won't have a prayer of prying away subscribers from existing wireless carriers in the traditional way. However, there are a lot of possibilities, such as developing new mobile financial services on new handsets and also introducing data services that take advantage of their strengths in their traditional business sectors."

This is the most likely explanation as to why credit card companies would want to venture into mobile and why a network would partner with one. Mobile payments (from sending money electronically to using a phone to purchase goods) as well as wireless chip and pin devices have brought finance houses and mobile phone companies together. Both rely upon each other for the services to work and both want to maximise their profit margins. As ever, it only takes one operator to allow an MVNO onto its network for the others to have no choice but to follow and allow MVNOs.

Zon to use Sigma for OSS – Portugal

In an extension to the existing ‘Service Management Portfolio’ contract for triple play services between Zon Multimedia and Sigma Systems, the two companies have announced that Sigma will provide OSS services for Zon’s mobile operation.

Tim Spencer, President and Chief Operating Officer of Sigma Systems, commented: "With help from Sigma Systems and our advanced fulfillment solutions, ZON has continuously added and delivered services that meet its customers' needs, regardless of their access technology or device. ZON is seeing rapid growth and increasing loyalty from its customers, who appreciate the value of the multi-service bundle options available. With the addition of mobile, ZON now offers anywhere, anytime and any device services."

The companies also announced an extension of the existing contract to 2013.

Monday, 14 September 2009

2ergo appoints new MVNO head – Global

2ergo has appointed Mark Gilburt as Head of MNO/MVNOs and Public Sector.

Mark Gilburt said: “2ergo is a pioneering company and I am looking forward to establishing and driving further innovation across the MNO/MVNO sector and also the public sector, an area that can capitalise on advancements in mobile technology to drive efficiencies, gain a better return on investment and manage relationships with the communities each serves.”

The company is involved in mobile enabling technologies.

Solomon to provide Twitter access for nothing – Germany

In response to the growing mobile Internet appetite for access to social network applications, Solomon has provided free TweetPush access. The service is in beta mode but allows users to access TweetPush via ‘Flash SMS’. Users can also text their status update via SMS for 7 cents if they do not want to ‘Push’.

Budget Mobile cuts tariff – France

In an effort to stay in track with discount calling providers, Budget Mobile has reduced the cost of calling from its network.

Calls to fixed lines fall from EUR 0.29 per minute to EUR 0.22 per minute. Calls to mobile networks are now EUR 0.34 per minute and calls within the Budget Mobile network remain the same at EUR 0.29.

These prices are for domestic calls and a long list of international destinations.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Edeka Mobile offers unlimited calls to fixed lines - Germany

Discount mobile service provider Edeka Mobile is offering unlimited calls to domestic fixed lines for EUR 9.99 per month. The service is available online and uses Vodafone’s network.

Subscribers can order a SIM card for EUR 9.99 which comes with EUR 10 of included call time. Alternatively a bulk buy family box is on offer for EUR 29.99 which comes with 4 SIMs which each have EUR 10 of credit.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

ONO goes lives – Spain

Spanish cable operator ONO, has become an MVNO too with its launch of mobile services. ONO are offering 2 calling plans to subscribers, namely Plan Diario (pre-pay service) and Tarifa Plana (monthly subscription plan). The service launched over Telefonica’s network.

Pre-pay prices are EUR 0.10 per minute for cross network calls and EUR 0.05 pre minute for ONO to ONO calls. The post pay service is priced at EUR 15 per minutes for which the subscriber will receive 500 minutes for anytime and any network use.

Within Spain Telefonica runs its own MVNO brand, namely Abbla. Telefonica trails behind Orange which according to The MVNO Directory has the most MVNO partnerships in the country.

Surf.red reduces mobile Internet tariff – Germany

Following on from last week’s netbook offer for EUR 1, Surf.red has cut its contract price. The mobile Internet virtual operator has reduced the two year contract price to EUR 24.95 from EUR 34.95 for the length of the contract. Prior to this the offer was available only for the first three months of service. The offer expires at the end of September.

The netbook offer is not available in combination with the discount offer.

Lycamobile pre-pay pays off – United Kingdom

It has become the norm for MNOs to focus on high ARPU levels and reduced levels of churn. Their method for doing this for several years has been the 18 month and 24 month contract, potentially with a Wii or TV chucked in for new subscribers. With UK consumers feeling the pinch from unemployment, a lack of credit and rising energy bills, a mass move to pre-pay has been suggested by Lycamobile.

Lycamobile Chief Executive Officer, Milind Kangle commented: “In these uncertain economic times consumers are increasingly looking for flexible products without long term financial commitments. Lycamobile’s ultra low price, high quality, service fits perfectly with the demands of our cash conscious consumers, a key reason for the momentum in our growth rate.“

Figures back up this statement with the MVNO reaching its first year target of 1.2 million subscribers. Lycamobile has also stated that 80% of calls made from its network terminate at international destinations, validating its claim of being the UK’s leading ethnic MVNO, or at least international calling market MVNO.

Telemore and FatWire team up online – Denmark

Telmore, owned by TDC and operated over TDC’s network but as an MVNO, has signed up to the FatWire Content Server and FatWire Engage to maximise its web audience.

Finn Hessellund, Director of Online Sales for Telmore, commented: "In order to deliver a high-quality online experience for our visitors as efficiently as possible, we needed our non-technical staff to be able to directly create and manage content and targeted campaigns on our website. FatWire gives us the power to make the most of our business and technical resources and to use the web to maximize customer satisfaction, loyalty and eCommerce revenue."

FatWire Software provides Web Experience Management (WEM) solutions that enable organisations to deliver a rich online experience to users and to simplify management of their web presence.

Roam Simple launches roaming dual-SIM – Canada

A new roaming MVNO has launched services targeting the North American travelling market and claims to offer a discounted roaming rate up of to 90% less than traditional alternatives.

The service works on unlocked GSM phones and requires a SIM card from Roam Simple. On ordering subscribers receives 2 numbers, 1 for the country they are visiting and the other for an area within North America of their choice.

The service is a pre-pay operation and call charges are billed directly to the subscriber’s registered credit card.

Amin Jadavji, Managing Partner of Roam Simple has stated that the service will attract cost conscious customers looking to make savings when travelling abroad. The unknown factor is how many people will be willing to go to the effort of switching between their SIM and the roaming SIM while travelling and whether or not they will be willing to register for the service.

Also unknown is how much of a discount frequent travellers already receive from alternatives they have already sought, such as purchasing a second mobile in the foreign market. Assuming subscribers are happy with their domestic offering the chances of Roam Simple benefitting from churn would also be a tough challenge for the operation.

XOX teams up with youth radio – Malaysia

XOX has begun implementing its marketing communications plan by partnering with 988, a youth targeted national radio station. The MVNO which is soon to launch will sponsor the K6 drive time show which broadcasts Monday to Friday between 5pm and 8pm.

XOX Com’s President, Ng Kok Heng, said: “XOX Com is proud to be a partner with 988, as their demographics suit our target market of reaching out to the niche Chinese market. Overall, XOX Com will be sponsoring the Evening Drive Time Special, with 260 exciting programmes lined up for listeners [one year of service].”

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Ortel Mobile 3rd year incentives – Germany

European MVNO Ortel Mobile has arrived at its 3rd year of operation in the German mobile market. The company operates in multiple countries across Europe targeting Dutch immigrants and others interested in its ethnic targeted services.

The German operation is running a campaign called “All good things come in 3s” to mark its 3 year anniversary, the campaign incentivises its dealer network and runs from 3rd September to 3rd October.

MVNOs look for 3G status – Thailand

Thai Mobile will soon upgrade its 2G network to offer a 3G broadband service. In response to this development the company has received 3 applications from MVNOs interested in running across the new network. The 3G upgrade is expected to go live at the start of December.

According to local reports from The Nation, TOT President Varut Suvakorn has named both Samart Corporation and 365 Communications as 2 of the interested parties. Sign off is expected by the end of September with the parties entering into non-disclosure agreements.

The upgrade is taking place on base stations in the Bangkok region, which will see approximately 500 base stations upgraded. Network capacity will run to 500,000 subscribers of which TOT hopes to fill 100,000 of by the end of December.