Friday, 23 January 2009

Lycamobile selects M2M to handle its media account – UK

Lycamobile, an ethnic market MVNO, has appointed M2M, one of the fastest growing media agencies in the UK, to handle its UK planning and buying account worth GBP 6 million (USD 8.32 million). M2M are tasked to attract more than one million British customers by September 2009.

Lycamobile will also launch an outdoor campaign, to be handled by Ogilvy, including ads on buses and on the London Underground. The company has around two million subscribers in Europe with their Pay As You Go SIM card service active in seven markets including the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland.

Youfone becomes an official partner of the Dutch football league – Netherlands

Youfone, a Dutch MVNO, has announced the official sponsorship of the Jupiler League, the Dutch football Second Division with 20 clubs. Youfone callers can nominate a club and the company will donate 10% of the monthly bill to that club. The event starts from January 24, 2009.

Youfone launched their service at the end of Q308 joining 37 other active MVNOs and service providers in The Netherlands, in addition to 5 branded operations disguised as MVNOs and 4 MNOs. Surprisingly we are aware of 4 other companies looking to enter this massively crowded market, including Blyk as it looks to expand into a pan European operator.

Helio might release upgraded Ocean smartphone – USA

According to Slashgear.com, Helio, an MVNO subsidiary of Virgin Mobile USA, is expected to launch an upgrade of its Ocean smartphone, launched April 2007. The upgraded version is expected to feature a 3 megapixel camera, dual-slider body and a touch navigation pad. There will be a provision to expand the 1GB on-board memory using the microSD slot.

The handset’s Internet browser is expected to come integrated with Adobe Flash support, which is most widely used for animations, videos and interactive applications on the web.

Virgin Mobile UK organises Voscars ceremony – UK

In the first-ever Voscars ceremony held at the Curzon Cinema in Mayfair, a spoof rap song created by writers and members of Saturday Night Live was voted as the overall favourite viral video by London Bloggers. The winning video featuring Justin Timberlake, Molly Simms and Jamie Lynn Sigler is available on YouTube. The event, organized by Virgin Mobile, brought together the UK’s thirty top bloggers, social media commentators and journalists.

Commenting on the ceremony, Simon Dornan, Head of PR at Virgin Mobile, said: “Online marketing campaigns aren't just an afterthought any more; they have become as important as any TV advert or price promotion. We created the Voscars panel to showcase their success and allow the online community to vote for the best. Our congratulations go to everyone involved in the winning video and to all those in the top 30. They were all incredibly creative examples of online marketing and I know it wasn't easy for the group to pick a winner."

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

LogicStar introduces MSSE software for MNOs – UK

LogicStar, a UK-based company specialising in Mobile, VOIP, fixed line and messaging systems has released the world’s first Mobile Shared Spectrum Enabler (MSSE) system and software. The software will enable MNOs to provide MVNOs with the ability to create their own base stations, operating under the MNOs spectrum license, without interfering with the MNOs mainstream network.

Commenting on the release, Sean Murray, Chief Executive Officer of LogicStar, said: “We are pleased to now be able to offer a solution that will see MVNOs being able to strengthen their profit margins by creating their own networks and yet still being able to take advantage of the MNOs core network, not only does the MVNO benefit, but also the MNO if they choose to take advantage of additional coverage obtained by the MVNO. We have already taken orders in Europe that will see this new technology service a potential market of some 50 million. It means essentially that the MVNO is no longer tied to the MNOs network and therefore can offer extensive coverage in areas that were seen to be not commercially viable by the MNO.”

According to the company, the MSSE software is comparably much lower in price and provides more features to its clients than currently available in the market. Moreover, the release of MSSE software will put the company in league with leading industry suppliers, such as Nokia, Nortel, etc.

This is an interesting development within the MVNO world. It could be where the next surge of launches will come from with MVNOs launching in remote communities which could also benefit from received roaming revenues or it could all be slammed shut by governments desperate to shore up their budget deficits, stating that no spectrum license means no network build out.

Third MNO for Bahrain, MVNOs not wanted yet – Bahrain

According to Alan Horne, General Director of Bahrain’s Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA), the third MNO that intends to enter Bahrain must have start up experience. He stated that in 2009, TRA will focus more on customers rather than on operators. He said: “TRA is split "80/20", with 80% working with the operators and 20% on the consumer side. That needs to be rebalanced to spending more time with the consumers, and we're going to have a major campaign in 2009 that we're working on now, and that should start hopefully in February,"

Commenting on the third MNO license, he said: “We're hoping to see [the third mobile operator] not only awarded but also operating before the end of 2009, so a third mobile operator will stimulate and stir up the market and make it truly competitive rather than a duopoly. We delayed [the tender] twice; the second time a number of the bidders were just getting their finances together and their bank guarantees and it was running into Eid and then the Christmas break so we pushed it to the beginning of January."

Commenting on the MVNO operations, he said: “Two or three of the MVNO companies in the area have been knocking on the door for some time, but we decided to go for the third infrastructure competitor and also to go for the unified license in Bahrain. The companies have to have some economies of scope, and therefore they need to be into the fixed, international, mobile, WiMAX, ISPs and premium, value added services. That's how, as a small nation, we see that we can benefit. Through economies of scale and having our operators linked in with, or part of a subsidiary arm, or in fact being the lead in an organization operating in many more countries and then giving economies of scope through having unified licenses and allowing them to do everything and anything within the country”.

“We're rationalizing our licensing regime and moving from the current 12 licenses we have to fundamentally one type of license called the unified license. The unified license will allow licensees to offer any technology and any service and the only restriction will be on the mobility aspect, until after the end of 2010. So this unified license should allow MVNOs, if they can come to an agreement with one of the three operators."

The result of this could actually be the catalyst for letting MVNOs in. 2 dominant MNOs outperforming a 3rd failing star up MNO or an incumbent seeing its subscriber base being churned away may be the cause of the 1st MNO to allow MVNOs on their network. What then follows is normally a race to for each network to have their own discount MVNO, a content focused MVNO, an ethnic focused MVNO, a roaming MVNO and all with the overall result being a truly open market. Alternatively, the 3rd MNO may not materialise or if it does it may by default be its own MVNO while it roams on the 2 other networks while trying to build out its own infrastructure.

Rakuten plans PHS service – Japan

Rakuten, a leading online shopping mall operator in Japan, is planning to launch an inexpensive Personal Handyphone System (PHS) service in April. According to the company’s officials, the company will operate as an MVNO and will utilise the network capacity of Willcom, a company specialising in PHS services.

Initially, the company will provide the PHS service to corporate customers of Fusion Communications, a company providing Internet Protocol telephone services in the Rakuten group. Fusion Communications will lease PHS network capacity from Willcom and will enable free calls between Rakuten-provided PHS phones. After observing the service for corporate customers, the company will decide on the launch of the PHS service for individuals.

Rakuten, in a bid to expand its telecommunications business, acquired Fusion Communications from Tokyo Electric Power Co. in 2007.

Universal Mobile France launches two new plans – France

According to Telecompaper, Universal Mobile France, a French MVNO utilising the network infrastructure of Bouygues Telecom, has launched two new subscription plans, specifically aimed at teenagers. One of the plans costs EUR 19.90 (USD 25.83) per month and comes with a two-year contract. The other offer includes 1 hour of calls to French numbers, unlimited SMS 24/7 and unlimited access to Windows Live.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Biedronka launches MVNO service – Poland

According to the Polish website www.di.com.pl, Biedronka, a supermarket chain owned by Portuguese group Jeronimo Martins, has launched its MVNO operations in Poland. The company will provide the service under the brand “Tu Biedronka”, and will utilise the network infrastructure of Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa (PTC) for its MVNO operations.

Carrefour, the leading French retail chain, has been providing MVNO services in the country under the brand “Mova” and has reportedly signed more than 30,000 subscribers since the launch of its service in April 2008. Carrefour aims to increase the figure to 100,000 in the current year.

According to the figures provided by di.com, there were 10 MVNO operators in Poland at the end of 3Q 2008, with around 165,000 active users. Our own research for the MVNO Directory 2009 has found 14 operations currently active within Poland and also found 7 other companies which are in various stages of planning mobile activities. MNI Telecom are also acting as an MVNE facilitating the launch of white label MVNOs.

Government set to announce MVNO policy in February – India

According to Siddharth Behura, Secretary of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), the policy on MVNOs will be announced in February. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a telecom conference, he said: “The policy for MVNO is being worked out and will be in place by next month".

The policy on MVNOs was expected last year, however due to a further delay in the auction of spectrum for 3G telecom services, it was postponed. Regarding the 3G auction, Behura stated that the proposal has been put before the cabinet for approval. However, he refused to confirm whether the 3G auction will take place in the current fiscal year, DoT expects to raise approximately INR 1 trillion (USD 20.48 billion) from the auction of 3G bandwidth and license fees for MVNOs and mobile number portability.

PosteMobile introduces new offer “With my country” – Italy

PosteMobile, an Italian MVNO, has launched a new plan, “Con il mio Paese” (With my country), specifically for users who make frequent calls from Italy to other countries. The list of countries covered includes Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Colombia, Croatia, Ecuador, Egypt, The Philippines, Ghana, India, Morocco, Moldova, Montenegro, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, Senegal, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Tunisia and Ukraine.

Under the new plan, users can make calls to landline and mobile phones of the selected countries at 16 cents per minute. Calls to a fixed number in Romania, Poland, Russia, Ukraine or Croatia can be made at only 8 cents per minute, subject to a maximum of 500 minutes per month.

According to PosteMobile, the new plan can be activated on subscribers’ existing plans. The plan does not attract a monthly fee or any set-up charges.

Monday, 19 January 2009

MÁSmovil integrates PayPal payment engine – Spain

MÁSmovil has announced the integration of PayPal’s payment engine into their online customer service system. The integration will enable the company’s subscribers to purchase prepaid credit online and top-up their accounts.