Friday, 13 February 2009

KPN uses recession to push MVNOs – Spain

Dutch telecommunications firm KPN are attempting to use the recession to push and expand its two Spanish based MVNOs, Simyo and Blau, by using their low-cost credentials to attract new customers during difficult financial times.

"The crisis is helping," said KPN's Chief Operations Officer for Spain, Miguel Angel Suarez, "Sales have been accelerating throughout the year."

Miguel Angel Suarez also estimates that there could be a potential MVNO market share of 10 percent, in line with many other European countries, which would equate to around a possible 4 million customers up for grabs in the Spanish market. MVNOs currently account for 900,000 subscribers or 1.8% of the market. Simyo makes up 150,000 of the 900,000 subscriber total, after launching over 13 months ago.

ROK launches suite of services for MVNOs – UK

ROK Entertainment Group has launched a suite of products for MVNOs in order to compete with the mainstream MNOs. The package includes various revenue-generating services, such as low-cost mobile calling and SMS technologies, ROK TV, Push Inbox mobile email, FreeBe TV, ROK Comics, News on Demand and Fonepark Mobile Content.

Commenting on the new launch, Jonathan Kendrick, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ROK, said: “Until now, most MVNOs have been competing for customers through the only means they have – that of price-dumping their voice and text service offerings. However, with Operator hosts doing likewise, the margins for most MVNOs have been steadily eroding and are, in many instances, unsustainable. Our aim is to level the playing field for MVNOs through offering them a one-stop-shop of relevant and appropriate revenue-generating services designed to raise ARPU, reduce customer churn and enable our partner MVNO’s to pro-actively poach customers from rival network operators.”

Two Directors from 20:20 Mobile resign – UK

Two senior members of 20:20 Mobile, Phil Henchoz, Sales Director and Andy Cutler, Director for Virtual Networks, have resigned from their services amid the continuing restructuring and cost cutting measures of the company. Both of them had been with 20:20 Mobile for over a year. It is anticipated that both the roles are to be covered by existing staff and will not see any replacements.

Meinie Oldersma, Chief Executive Officer of 20:20 Mobile, wants to integrate both Dextra and 20:20, and create a leaning group structure, and the development has been seen as a step towards that direction. Following this, James Browning will be the sole UK Managing Director; Martin O’Grady, the UK Finance Head; and Andy Peat, Head of Purchasing and Marketing.

Commenting on the exits, James Browning, Managing Director of 20:20 Mobile, said: “These departures from the business are simply recognition that there are synergies we can and should make to ensure our business is as lean, efficient and “joined-up” as it needs to be in the current economic climate. We made major organisational changes last autumn when we consolidated our three UK businesses into one, and this review is the logical extension of that process.”

Thursday, 12 February 2009

TeleCable selects Oberthur for mobile device administration – Spain

TeleCable, a Spanish MVNO, has selected Oberthur, a provider of secure technologies, for the administration of its mobile devices (SIM cards and phones) using Over-the-Air (OTA) and device management platforms.

Oberthur Technologies’ SIM cards can be updated and managed with the help of an Application Loader and Manager platform in order to meet market requirements and offer top notch services to TeleCable’s customers. The Device Management platform enables automatic configuration of mobile handsets by insertion of a TeleCable USIM in the handset, which enables users to get access to a wide variety of services, such as WAP, MMS, SMS, GPRS and E-mail. This will help TeleCable to differentiate itself from the competition and also to increase its ARPU due to data traffic growth.

Commenting on the agreement, Juan Garcia-Conde, General Manager at TeleCable, said: “With Oberthur Technologies' tailor-made solutions, TeleCable can offer the best technology and a wide range of services to its clients while achieving time-to-market.”

Eric Duforest, Managing Director Europe, Card Systems Division at Oberthur Technologies, added: “The commitment and the collaboration of Oberthur Technologies' French and Spanish teams have enabled TeleCable's successful deployment. Anticipating upcoming services and new applications, Oberthur Technologies has reinforced its strategy to deliver an end-to-end offer, from cards to management solutions, in Spain. This partnership with TeleCable is part of Oberthur Technologies' ambition to deliver solutions to MVNOs.”

blau.de partners with Cellity to offer customers Address Book 2.0 – Germany

cellity and blau.de have agreed to combine forces and offer cellity’s Address book 2.0 to blau.de’s customers. cellity’s Address book 2.0 stores and collates contact information from several different sources such as Outlook, Twitter and various social networking sites in one easily accessible and secure location.

Sarik Weber, member of the Executive Board and co-founder of cellity AG commented: “With blau Mobilfunk GmbH we have found a distinguished partner with a high profile as a discount cell phone service provider. We can therefore continue to offer our users reasonable tariffs and at the same time we can satisfy blau.de customers with the address book 2.0 feature as a central connection point of communication.”

Martin Ostermayer, Chief Executive Officer of blau Mobilfunk GmbH added: “Through the cooperation with cellity AG we not only benefit from access to an innovative platform, but this also opens up synergies between low-priced mobile communication and communication management.”

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Vistream’s solomo offering 1 cent (EUR 0.01) MMS for Valentine’s Day – Germany

German pay as you go customers using the solomo network can this Valentine’s Day send 1 cent MMS pictures. The promotion lasts for 1 day only, namely 14th February, then charges revert back to normal. The offer is valid only within German networks.

CarreFour Mobile to launch M-Payment in December– France

According to mobinaute.com, the Carrefour Group intend to allow shoppers to pay using using their mobile phones. The service would be available via the Carrefour Mobile offer and would use an NFC payment system. Carrefour operates as a supermarket retailer in Europe and has launched its mobile operation in multiple countries. The service is quoted as launching this December.

TracFone Wireless targets low income New Yorkers for affordable services – USA

TracFone Wireless, the largest MVNO in the United States with over 10 million subscribers, will offer 1.5 million low income households in New York a chance to get a mobile phone utilising their pre-paid SafeLink Wireless service.

SafeLink Wireless is a US government supported service which enables qualifying households to receive a free mobile, access to emergency services and free airtime (68 minutes a month) for one year. If all of the free airtime provided is used up then customers can purchase pre-paid cards to bolster their minute allowance. This latest initiative comes on the tail of TracFone’s similar offering last September, where 1.2 million households in Florida became eligible for the SafeLink Wireless service.

Jose Fuentes, Director of Government Relations for TracFone, said: “More than 1.5 million households in New York qualify for the Lifeline services – offering these participants the opportunity to have the same access and privileges many individuals take for granted when it comes to using cell phones. The SafeLink Wireless service is truly unique because we are providing a service that no other company has made available before – a free cell phone and free monthly minutes to qualifying low income families.”

Videotron set to create 500 new jobs – Canada

The Canadian MVNO and telecommunications company Videotron has announced that it will create in the region of 500 new full-time jobs by the end of 2009. The jobs will be spread between areas such as engineering and information technology through to customer service, technical support, finance, marketing, construction, network maintenance and human resources.

The new jobs will come largely as a result of the company's decision to construct a new wireless network which is expected to cost in the region of 0.8 and 1.0 bln Canadian dollars (790 Mln USD).

Robert Depatie, Videotron’s President and Chief Executive Officer commented: "In this period of economic uncertainty, Videotron is glad it can make positive contributions to the Quebec economy by creating a significant number of jobs and solid career opportunities."

Government allows CMC Telecom to provide telecom services – Vietnam

The government of Vietnam has allowed CMC Telecom Infrastructure, a provider of data, telecom infrastructure, value-added and customer care services, to establish a network and provide fixed and Internet services alongside other state-owned operators. CMC is the second private company after FPT Telecom that has been given permission to enter the telecom infrastructure sector.

Commenting on the development, an official of CMC Telecom, said: “It is too early to say anything about the license as we are waiting for MIC to give us the license which will define which services and projects we are allowed to join in on”.

CMC intends to utilise WiMAX technology for broadband services and to provide mobile services through an MVNO license once the service becomes operational in Vietnam. The official added: “This is the first step for us to penetrate fixed telecom network development and WiMAX and MVNO is beyond that.”

In 2008, MIC granted two VoIP and network installation licenses including one to Indochina Telecom Company, which is also mulling an MVNO license. Currently, Vietnam has five Internet exchanges, 11 ISPs and over 20 open service providers.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Effortel selects Amdocs solution for MVNO offerings – Taiwan

Effortel, a Belgium-based MVNE, has selected Amdocs Compact Convergence solution to support the launch of its MVNO offering in Taiwan. Effortel is in talks with one of the world’s leading retailers for the launch of its mobile offering in the country. Amdocs Compact Convergence is an integrated suite that includes convergent real-time charging, service delivery, customer care and self-care for launching cost-effective mobile services, including MVNO and MVNE service.

Commenting on the new platform, Liudvikas Andriulis, Chief Marketing Officer of Effortel, said: “The new MVNO site in Taiwan is a compelling example of how Amdocs Compact Convergence allows us to extend and adapt our operations easily, quickly and cost effectively to support additional MVNOs and subscribers in any market, regardless of their location and localization requirements – and all using a single platform.”

Blyk justifies its pricing moves – UK

More than 22,000 Blyk customers showed their resentment towards the company’s change in pricing structure late last year, which Blyk justified as a precautionary measure during the economic recession. Blyk members used to receive 217 texts and 43 minutes of call per month in lieu of receipt of advertisements. Out-of-bundle prepay charges were applicable at 15p (USD 0.22) per minute and 10p (USD 0.15) per text. However, Blyk introduced a new GBP 15 (USD 22.26) plan that offers any combination of free text, call and data usage at prepay rates (data charged at GBP 1 (USD 1.48) per MB).

Commenting on the company’s move, Antti Ohrling, Co-founder and UK Chief Executive Officer of Blyk, said: “Blyk is aware that GBP 15 (USD 22.26) of free credit is not as much 'free' as you've received in the past. The changes that Blyk is making today will ensure that Blyk can continue to bring members 'free' communication long into the future. And like many of you have said: 'It's far better to have Blyk than not to have Blyk at all'."

Blyk claims to have signed more than 200,000 customers in the UK and over 200 brands using its service, since its debut 18 months ago.

Virgin Mobile introduces new post-paid plan – UK

Virgin Mobile UK has launched a new post-paid tariff. The new plan, available on an 18-month contract, will cost GBP 8.50 (USD 12.62) per month and will offer 100 free minutes and 100 texts per month. Customers will have an option to choose from a variety of free phones available with the plan.

Qwest’s final quarter results beat Wall Street estimates – USA

Qwest Communications has reported profits of 11 cents per share for Q408.

According to Qwest, the margins have improved on account of enhanced revenue mix and stronger cost cutting measures. For Q408, the company added 54,000 net broadband customers (Fiber-to-the-node network) and also moved more than 180,000 MVNO customers from Sprint the to Verizon Wireless network.

Qwest expects an adjusted EBITDA of USD 4.4 billion and adjusted free cash flow of USD 1.4 to USD 1.5 billion in 2009. Qwest also plans to make a capital investment of USD 1.8 billion in the future.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Oman to witness first MVNO launch (soon) – Oman

Oman is expected to witness the first MVNO launch in the region by the end of March 2009, in the form of Renna, the brand name of Majan Telecommunications.

Renna is expected to face stiff competition from FRiENDi mobile. According to Antti Arponen, Chief Executive Officer of FRiENDi, the company also already meets the four basic requirements to launch an MVNO; that includes license, wholesale agreement, funding and distribution agreement.

In our previous issues, we had mentioned about Majan Telecommunications receiving a Class II reseller license from the regulator. Another company Mazoon Mobile, which had been granted a Class II license, is also awaiting a reseller deal with either of Oman’s network operators. According to Mohamed Alhashili, Chief Executive Officer of Mazoon Mobile, the company will be ready to launch its operations within 40 days of the finalisation of a wholesale agreement.

Amazon launches upgraded e-Reader ‘Kindle 2’ – USA

Amazon has announced the launch of new version of its Kindle e-reader, ‘Kindle 2’. According to Jeff Bezos, Chief Executive Officer of Amazon, the new Kindle is thinner (just over a third of an inch) than the iPhone and also offers seven times more storage than the original one. Kindle 2 also has 25% more battery life, easy navigation buttons and a five-way controller to take notes and highlight text. Its “Whispersync” feature automatically synchs the content of the original Kindle with the new one. The new device offers vocabulary from the New Oxford Dictionary at the end of the page and also the option of pulling down reader notes.

Kindle 2 will also run on Amazon’s own MVNO network and the users will only have to purchase the digital books. Kindle 2 costs USD 359 and is available for pre-order. Shipping of the device will start February 24.

IIJ releases data communications card for IIJ Mobile – Japan

Internet Initiative Japan (IIJ), a leading Internet access and network solutions provider, has announced March as the release date for a new IIJ-developed communications card ‘110FE’ for IIJ Mobile, an MVNO for corporate customers.

The new 110FE will be the industry’s first ExpressCard, and will work with the NTT DoCoMo FOMA HIGH-SPEED Network. The card is much more compact than the conventional PCMCIA card. In addition, the new card has a GSM international roaming facility together with the standard 3G features.

The card is bundled with driver software that automatically gets installed after the device is first used. It is also compatible with a connection tool, IIJ Mobile Secure link, providing a safer and more convenient mobile business environment. As part of the promotional offer, the company plans to waive the initial fee and terminal rental fee for customers who apply for the IIJ mobile Service/Type D Fixed Rate service, along with an 110FE card by the end of April 2009.