Friday, 16 January 2009

Lebara Mobile partners with Superdrug for airtime sale – UK

Lebara Mobile has entered into a distribution agreement with Superdrug. Under the terms of the agreement, Superdrug will sell Lebara Mobile’s airtime from its 915 stores spread across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with immediate effect.

Commenting on the agreement, Jon Fawcett, Head of Group Marketing for Lebara Mobile, said: “In addition to the existing retail relationships that Lebara Mobile has already secured throughout the UK, this new partnership with Superdrug presents an exceptionally exciting opportunity. This announcement further underlines our goal to make our service as easy and convenient as possible for consumers to access and use. And, our commitment to long-term partnerships with national retailers is just another example of how we’re maintaining our leadership position.”

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Unwired View provides leaked images of a new handset For Net10 – USA

Unwired View, a mobile tech news and reviews website, has revealed the first midrange handset EM326g for Net10, a prepaid MVNO service provided by TracFone Wireless (a subsidiary of America Móvil).

The handset is a derivative of the EM35 phone and features touch sensitive media player controls, microSDHC expansion slot, 1.3 megapixel camera with video recorder, 3.5mm headphone jack and Bluetooth with stereo audio support. However, the pricing and availability details of the handset could not be identified.

Net10 launched their service over the AT&T network in July 2005 with a focus on the prepay market to those seeking a cheaper alternative.

MVNO subscribers reach 3.5 Mln – Netherlands

According to TelecomPaper, the total number of MVNO subscribers in the Netherlands reached 3.51 million as of September 30, 2008, registering an increase of 10% from the previous year. The same research claims that the country had around 50 MVNOs that accounted for 17.3% of the total SIM cards market on as against 17% in the previous year.

For the six months to September 2008, various players, such as Easer Mobile, Tok Toe Mie, Youfone and Internet Overal entered the market, while many closed their MVNO operations. Additionally, Telecompaper stated that many players, such as Blyk and Telesur have either launched commercially in the country or have announced their plans to launch in 2009.

Our own research for the coming MVNO Directory 2009 has identified 38 active Dutch operations, 5 in the planning stages, 5 operations which are simply brands of MNOs and multiple others which have fallen or been taken over since our 2nd edition, including Tok Toe Mie, mentioned above.

Truphone Mulls MVNO Option – UK

Truphone, a UK-based mobile VoIP/Internet telephony operator, is planning to launch an MVNO service in the UK. The new service will combine all of the company’s international long-distance calling, roaming and messaging platforms into an integrated service that will enable the selection of the cheapest platform when a call is placed. The company is expected to reveal the first details of the new service at the Mobile World Congress in February in Barcelona.

Truphone is an application for the iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry and Nokia S60 dual-mode devices. The application allows international toll bypass VoIP calling over Wi-Fi or cellular networks. However, it is positioning itself as a portal for voice and instant messaging services by integrating MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Twitter, Google Talk and Skype.

Tesco Mobile witnesses surge in handset demand before Christmas – UK

During 2008, Tesco Mobile witnessed a big boost in the sales of its mobile handsets. The main reason behind the success was the offer provided by the company, including a rebate of GBP 25 (USD 36.42) on Tesco Mobile handsets (above GBP 50 (USD 72.84)) for customers spending more than GBP 25 (USD 36.42) in the supermarket. This resulted in a 69% year-on-year increase in demand for its handsets and SIM cards in the week before Christmas. On the whole, sales for the last quarter increased by 20% compared to the previous year.

Commenting on the success, Lance Batchelor, Chief Executive Officer for Tesco Telecoms and Tesco Mobile, said: “We are delighted with our Christmas performance. By focusing on value, choice and convenience we are delivering what our customers want and are making Tesco one of the most popular destinations for telecoms retailing”.

The company claims that the growth came due to its focus on customer satisfaction. According to the company, it was the number one network for pay-as-you-go customer satisfaction in the final three months of 2008, as per the data from TNS. The company has also been successful in retaining this position for 10 quarters in total.

Within the UK, Tesco Mobile is competing in the MVNO food retailers’ market with ASDA, Sainsbury’s, M&S and then likewise with a whole host of other niche focused MVNOs and those simply aimed at the consumer discount market. As part of its green strategy the company is also offering in store credits or charitable donations via its Clubcard scheme to anyone wishing to send in an old mobile phone for recycling.

Boost Mobile set to introduce new mobile plan – USA

On January 22, 2009, Boost Mobile, a US-based prepaid wireless MVNO and a subsidiary of Sprint Nextel, will introduce a new mobile plan that will include unlimited national calling, text messaging, mobile Internet and push to talk services, all for USD 50 per month. Boost also announced that the plan will not contain any hidden charges or activation fees. The company will also pay for taxes, irrespective of destination, on behalf of its subscribers.

Their aims is to differentiate themselves from other similar operators, such as MetroPCS and Cricket by introducing the new scheme. Commenting on the new launch, Matt Carter, President of Boost Mobile, said: “Wireless consumers know there’s a lot of wrong out there – activation fees, overage charges and extra costs for services like voicemail and roaming. Unlike some other prepaid services, our new flat-rate plan will not include any of these charges; what you see is what you get”. A peace of mind service then for subscribers wallets.

Boost’s plan is much cheaper than those offered by Verizon Wireless and AT&T as both of them offer unlimited voice services at USD 99 per month. This could be Sprint’s way of encouraging churn to their MVNO.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Lycamobile signs PayPoint for mobile Top-Ups – UK

Industry sources claim that Lycamobile, an ethnic market MVNO in the UK, has entered into a channel agreement with PayPoint for SIM card top-ups. PayPoint is a leading branded retail network for mobile top-ups and the payment of household bills and is operated throughout shops across the UK.

Under the agreement customers will be able to top-up their prepaid SIM card at PayPoint’s retail outlets, in places such as Somerfield, The Co-operative, Spar, Superdrug and many independent retailers. Lycamobile is supporting the service by providing free credit top-ups and also running an advertising campaign. The top-ups will be available in denominations ranging from GBP 5 (USD 7.50) to GBP 50 (USD 74.98).

Lycamobile has added nearly 25,000 retail terminals with this agreement, taking the company’s total reach in the UK to more than 115,000 points of sale. The company expects to reach more than 1 million subscribers within 12 months of its launch, which according to The MVNO Directory was September 2008.

Convergys completes software implementation for Virgin Media – UK

Convergys Corporation, a leading OSS / BSS provider, has announced the successful completion of an end-to-end complex customer-centric and BSS solution for Virgin Media, named ‘ICOMS’. The team from Convergys migrated more than four million Virgin Media accounts on to the new platform, bringing the total number to approximately five million. The project was completed on time and budget and is helping Virgin Media in significantly cutting costs. Convergys are also providing ongoing support and maintenance as part of the agreement.

Commenting on the software implementation, Howard Watson, Chief Technology Officer at Virgin Media, said: “We're committed to delivering a great service to our customers and our customer care and billing system is an important part of this. Convergys understood the complexities of our business and how to best support our customer service staff with a simple and transparent system.”

Riki Allon, Senior Vice President and General Manager for Convergys (EMEA), added: “Virgin Media is offering its customers a broad array of converged telecommunications services. With ICOMS in place, Virgin Media can now execute more innovative product launches across the entirety of its customer base and reduce time to market to maintain its competitive advantage.”

Vibo Telecom partners with Sim2Travel for roaming services – Taiwan

Vibo Telecom, a leading 3G operator in Taiwan, has entered into an agreement with Sim2Travel, an MVNO registered in the British Virgin Islands, for the provisioning of roaming services to the subscribers of its V-Tone Card, as well as Sim2Travel’s World Card. According to Vibo, the roaming service will be available through V-Tone SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) and a World Card USIM (universal SIM).

According to Vibo, the dual card roaming service charges for voice calls from Taiwan to international destinations will be NT$1 (USD 0.03) per minute. Calls from China or Hong Kong to Taiwan will be NT$10 (USD 0.30) per minute and received relayed calls from the US, Japan, Singapore, etc will be charged at NT$4.4 (USD 0.13) per minute.

Currently, Vibo has around 100,000 V-Tone Card subscribers and expects to add 100,000 more subscribers in 2009 in co-operation with Sim2Travel.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Virgin Mobile France partners with Playboy – France

Virgin Mobile France, for the second consecutive year, has partnered with Playboy magazine for Valentine’s Day. The venture focuses around the promotion of his and her mobile phone packs branded with the Playboy logo. There’s a pink phone for girls and a grey/black phone for boys - both with the Playboy logo stamped on them. The phones are Samsung U600s and also come with relevant themed mobile content.

The offer launches at the end of January and is reportedly not available to children.

Megasoft sees no major impact of World Bank Ban – India

Megasoft, a provider of revenue-generating solutions to MNOs and MVNOs including Sprint and Telefonica, has declared that the decision of The World Bank to bar it from outsourcing services will not have any financial impact on the operations of the company. As an impact, the company has now joined the list of companies, such as Wipro and Satyam that have been banned by The World Bank on the grounds of unfair practices.

Commenting on the ban, G.V. Kumar, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of Megasoft, said: “It came as a total surprise to us. We used to provide World Bank people to man their information technology (IT) systems, but we stopped doing business with them in 2007 itself”. The company derives approximately 60% of its revenues from telecom products.