Saturday, 21 February 2009

Pan-India MVNO license to cost INR 850Mln - India

The Department of Telecommunications has set INR 850 million (USD 16.99 million) as the entry fee for obtaining a pan-Indian MVNO licence. Both domestic and international players will have to pay the entry fee, which is subject to a ceiling and floor price for each service area. The entry fee is 10% of the amount, to be paid by the UASL players.

The maximum entry fee for an MVNO licence has been kept at INR 50 million (USD 0.99 million) for metros and ‘A’ category states; INR 30 million (USD 0.59 million) for ‘B’ category states; and INR 10 million (USD 0.19 million) for ‘C’ category states. In addition, the Telecom Commission has asked MVNOs to pay spectrum charges and a bank guarantee equivalent to 5 percent of the amount paid by mobile network operators.

In a related development, the Telecom Commission has rejected TRAI’s (the telecom regulator) recommendation that MVNOs should not be allowed to use the network of more than one operator. Therefore, MVNOs will be able to tie-up with more than one existing operator in an area to launch their services. However, in such a scenario, spectrum usage fees of an MVNO will be evaluated on the basis of the individual subscriber base of the telecom operator, whose cellular infrastructure it uses. This might discourage MVNOs from signing agreements with a large number of operators. The commission has also clarified that MVNOs cannot merge operations with existing operators, as they are categorised under two different types of licenses.

The move toward a burgeoning MVNO market is due in part to the roll out of 3G services across India, opening up large swathes of 2G network capacity to be used for MVNOs.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Zantel opens new flagship store - Tanzania

Tanzanian MVNO Zantel has opened a new retail store in Dar el Salaam, the largest city in Tanzania. Darren Harris, the head of Zantel’s Commercial Department said it would provide an extensive range of services to maximise opportunities for interaction between customers and the Zantel service.

"We recognize that our relationship with customers is essential and long term as mobile moves from being simply a method of communicating to a way of life ... this is an opportunity for our clients around this area to come to us for any need or queries they may have.”

Telecom services exposed to number fees - Hong Kong

The Office of the Telecommunications Authority has extended the annual number fee to public radio paging and MVNOs starting June 1. The number fee, which forms a component of the annual license fee, has already been levied on service-based operators and unified carrier licensees. According to the Telecommunications Authority, the decision will bring uniformity amongst various telecom service providers and encourage efficient use of telecom numbers.

Under the ruling, the annual license fee for each number will be decreased from USD 18 to USD 8. Therefore, this is likely to become economical for public radio paging and MVNOs, if they utilise the numbers allocated to them more efficiently. The authority has also provided a mechanism for operators to return inactive numbers.

Extreme Mobile shelves MVNO plan - UK

Extreme Mobile has dropped plans for their UK MVNO launch owing to the withdrawal of its financier Roman Karkosik. Consequently, Ian Pond, Managing Director, Extreme Mobile UK, has left the company due to Karkosik’s decision. Extreme Mobile has also terminated its network sharing agreement with Vodafone.

Commenting on the issue, Al Gosling, Chief Executive Officer of Extreme International, stated that there were now no plans to pursue a UK mobile operator business. He further added: “The Polish businessman who came in to fund the MVNO has pulled out so the project has stopped. We have terminated the license on the venture.”

Red Bull Mobile introduces new mobile tariffs - Austria

TelecomPaper has reported that Red Bull Mobile have introduced two new mobile flat rate tariff plans. The new tariff plans include voice minutes, SMS, MMS, mobile data usage and mobile TV. The new plans namely, All simply and All simplystella+, will cost EUR 15 (USD 18.94) and EUR 29 (USD 36.63) per month, respectively.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Tele2 Netherlands ditch KPN for T-Mobile - Netherlands

Tele2 Netherlands has announced that they have signed an MVNO agreement with T-Mobile Netherlands, officially severing ties with former MVNO partner KPN.

Industry speculation was rife that Tele2 would switch its services to T-Mobile after anonymous sources initially informed Reuters of the proposed deal. Both KPN and Deutsche Telekom - parent company of T-Mobile Netherlands - refused to issue a statement about the rumoured agreement. When spokesmen from both companies were pressed about the reports they remained tight-lipped, neither confirming nor denying the speculation.

The new agreement will see Tele2, the largest MVNO in The Netherlands, transfer its 450,000 customers over to T-Mobile Netherlands, giving it access to both its 2G & 3G network.

"We are very pleased with the agreement which gives Tele2 improved margins on an already profitable market. The agreement also allows us to continue to offer high quality products and at the same time ensure our price leading position.” said Harri Koponen, President and CEO of Tele2.

Sumitomi invests in Merchantrade - Malaysia

Sumitomi Corporation, a Japanese telecommunications conglomerate, has injected ¥750,000,000 (7,835,243 USD) in to the first Malaysian MVNO, Merchantrade.

“Sumitomo will contribute to the company by supporting its deployment of new services like integrated service and marketing expansion as well as enhancing its corporate governance.” Sumitomi said in its press statement.

Merchantrade, an MVNO aimed at foreign workers, currently has over 94,000 active subscribers and operate using the Celcom network.

GTV looks to enter mobile market - Brazil

Brazilian telecommunications company GTV, one of the only Brazilian fixed telephony operators without a mobile service, is looking to enter the mobile market by signing an MVNO agreement.

GVT’s Vice President for Business Affairs is reported to have said that GVT would not participate in any spectrum auctions for a mobile licence, confirming their MVNO ambitions. Any deal would be subject to approval from Brazilian telecommunications regulator, Anatel.

Freenet reports 70% jump in revenues - Germany

Freenet, the German multi-service operator, has reported a 70% jump in its revenues to EUR 2.87 billion (USD 3.61 billion) for the fiscal year 2008, as compared to EUR 1.69 billion (USD 2.13 billion) in 2007. However, the company’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) declined 3.1% from EUR 213.7 million (USD 269.26 million) to EUR 207.1 million (USD 260.94 million)

Freenet became one of the leading mobile phone operators in Germany after acquiring the MVNO, debitel, for EUR 1.63 billion (USD 2.05 billion) in April 2008. It generated a subscriber base of 19.9 million at the end of September 2008, compared to 5.98 million three months earlier and 5.45 million at the end of September 2007. Freenet is expected to declare their final results on 26 March 2009.

IMImobile purchases Nokia Siemens’ Music2You service - India

IMImobile, a leading provider of converged mobile and online technology platforms and content services worldwide, has announced the purchase of Music2You (M2Y), a service previously provided by Nokia Siemens Networks. The purchase will enable IMImobile to enhance their delivery of value-added services to telecom operators and media companies worldwide.

Patrik Sallner, Global Head of Hosting Services, Nokia Siemens Networks, commented: “We decided to exit the Music2You business and to focus our hosting business on hosting MVNO solutions and messaging to serve the needs of the diverse customer base in the transforming industry”.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Altech Autopage Cellular issued licences after legal wrangle – South Africa

South African mobile reseller Altech Autopage Celluar, has been officially awarded their Electronic Communications Network Services (I-ECNS) and Electronic Communications Services (I-ECS) licences by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) after a drawn out legal battle.

The licences have been subject to several legal challenges in the past, with a high court appeal lodged by Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri which was subsequently rejected. The Minister then attempted to take out an urgent court order to halt the licences being issued, this was also turned down.

Icasa mulls South Africa's Electronic Communications Act - South Africa

The Independent Communications Authority (Icasa) will conduct hearings on a major decision based on South Africa's new Electronic Communications Act (ECA). The proposed regulations will allow carrier pre-select (CPS) for South Africa's telecommunications networks, such as Vodacom and MTN. The proposed regulation, if implemented, would force established operators to carry network traffic on behalf of smaller, third-party operators, enabling MVNOs to compete directly with mobile operators.

One of the companies that might benefit from such regulation is ECN, a leading provider of converged voice and data solutions. The company claims in its representation that the South African mobile market is a duopoly and mobile calls in the region are among the highest in the world.

Commenting on the issue, John Holdsworth, Chief Executive Officer of ECN, said: “In SA, it would be pointless implementing it if not for mobile, because of the dominance of cellular telephony. It's highly negative for the competitive environment if the incumbent operators are able to use their networks as a lever to prevent competition … MVNOs are simply unable to compete if they must build networks that match the scale and capacity of the incumbents. The only way to introduce competition and drive prices down is if CPS is properly introduced, enabling the MVNO market."

However, both Vodacom and MTN have made representations against the proposed regulation and plan to present their cases before Icasa. Graham de Vries, MTN's Head of Regulatory Affairs, commented that the company (MTN) will support any decision by Icasa which is backed with market analysis and offers CPS regulations as the most efficient solution. With MTN being a large player across Africa, a successful SA MVNO on their network could lead to them opening up their networks in other countries too.

Skyrock aspire to enter mobile market - France

The French rap and R&B radio station as well as youth oriented social networking site Skyrock, is reported to be in negotiations with MNOs over its potential entry to the French mobile market.

Pierre Bellander, 30% shareholder of Skyrock’s parent company Orbus, told French financial daily Les Echos that they were considering a launch into the French market.

Skyrock will attempt to corner the lucrative youth segment of the market with Skyrock’s social networking site, the 7th largest social networking site in the world, giving it a hefty potential user base to appeal to. Skyrock hosts over 22.5 million blogs and is consistently ranked as one of the top ten websites in France, Belgium and Switzerland.

According to French telecommunications regulator Arcep, MVNOs currently make up just over 5% of the current French mobile market and some industry insiders have questioned Skyrock’s ability to increase or grab part of this existing share.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Velti and Blyk to launch content portal – UK

Reports have emerged from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that Velti, a mobile marketing and content services provider, have partnered with Blyk to launch the operator’s content portal, On Blyk.

Velti used parts of its MMP (Mobile Marketing Platform) to help develop and launch the portal, which will see highly targeted content, from providers such as Player X, Saffron Digital and Jumbuck, sent directly to the operator’s 16-24 year old subscribers.

Tony Pearce, Player X Chief Executive Officer said: “We liked the proposition On Blyk offered us and joined the service when we realised the flexibility of the Blyk network. We can control price points, promotional activities and the discovery of our content, in a more efficient way than other operator offerings."

Alex Moukas, Velti’s Chief Executive Officer, added: “On Blyk is a great illustration of how Velti’s technology can ensure the relevance of mobile communications, based on lifestyle or brand choices made by individuals. As Blyk members use the portal we will be able to use this behavioural insight to deliver the most compelling, relevant and timely content to them. On Blyk’s use of our personalisation technology is a key element in determining what content members will be receptive to and delivering a valued experience.”

BASE and Aspiro to launch new content store – Belgium

Belgian MVNO BASE and content provider Aspiro have banded together to launch a mobile entertainment store called Inpoc. Inpoc will utilise BASE’s portal and will offer mobile content such as ringtones, games, pictures and videos.

Aspiro view this latest partnership as a move away from its traditional market in Scandinavia and the Baltic States.

Truphone unveils roaming MVNO offering – UK

Truphone, a UK-based provider of mobile VoIP and Internet telephony services, has unveiled its MVNO offering at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The new MVNO ‘Truphone Local Anywhere’ is a multi-country single SIM card service combining local calling plans, international local numbers and a VoIP network that enables its customers to make and receive domestic or international calls at cheap rates.

Truphone will officially launch the service later in 2009 with the objective to make all calls to and from its network a local call. A software client on the phone will automatically dial a local number that connects the call to one of the Truphone’s Session Initiating Protocol (SIP) gateways. Thereafter, the call is sent to Truphone’s global VoIP network that finally reaches locally at its destination. Similarly, someone calling a Truphone customer in another country would dial the recipient’s personal local number, which will connect through the same IP infrastructure to the location where the Truphone customer is located.

Tele2 mulls shifting to T-Mobile – Netherlands

According to industry sources, Tele2 is mulling the option of leaving KPN for T-Mobile. Currently, Tele2 provides MVNO services by utilising the network infrastructure of KPN. The move would take 460,000 mobile customers off KPN’s subscriber total and put the figure onto T-Mobile’s.

KPN acquired Telfort in 2005 and consequently gained Tele2 as its customer. When contacted, KPN declined to comment on the development while Deutsche Telekom was not immediately available for comment.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Trade Mobile on a growth path – New Zealand

Two years ago, Trade Mobile launched an online portal, voeveo.com, for the purchase of songs, games and ringtones, direct from content producers. Currently, the portal attracts around 40,000 visitors every month and Trade Mobile receives a 30% commission on the sale of 60,000 digital files uploaded by content providers. Trade Mobile has started receiving various contracts including an invitation from Virgin Mobile to develop a portal. The company has secured a GBP 1.5 million (USD 2.15 million) deal from the London Technology Fund for developing a London base for its business in Britain, Europe and the US.

Black & White will be one of the first customers for Trade Mobile when it launches a rebranded version of Voeveo to its subscribers in two weeks.

Mobistar and Telenet agree to prolong partnership – Belgium

The second largest Belgian MNO Mobistar and the largest Belgian cable broadband provider Telenet have announced that they are to extend their strategic partnership for a minimum of 3 years. According Mobistar, “the new partnership has evolved into a full MVNO agreement.”

The continuation of the agreement calls for Telenet to develop its own mobile switching centre and will work in cooperation with Mobistar for its voice and data radio infrastructure.

The original agreement between the two companies was signed in February 2006 at the annual GSM conference in Barcelona. The agreement allowed Mobistar to target specific market segments previously out of its reach and the agreement also enabled Telenet to offer its customers quad-play services. Both parties in the agreement believe that the three year extension to the current deal will be a positive move.

Duco Sickinghe, Chief Executive Officer of Telenet commented: “With this agreement we can make the mobile Internet market more dynamic. In July 2006, Telenet added mobile voice to its 'triple play' offer following a partnership with Mobistar. Today, this full MVNO is a major step toward the development of Telenet Mobile as a fourth pillar, in its own right, in addition to Internet, fixed telephony and television. It means that in the long term Telenet will be able to fully compete in every segment (quad-play). This agreement also means Telenet is able to make the step towards more advanced products and services made possible by the increasing convergence between fixed and mobile telephone and Internet applications.”

Benoit Scheen, Chief Executive Officer of Mobistar added: “This MVNO agreement strengthens our strategic position and confirms that our partnership approach works. We are glad that Telenet, our first MVNO partner, is now also our first Full MVNO partner. They are an innovative player in Flanders and an important partner for the future. Access to their fibre optic network can offer additional possibilities to manage our backhaul. The expected growth of mobile data traffic will require increasing fixed network capacity to base stations and Telenet will offer this extra handling capacity.”

Freenet predicts synergies worth USD 273 Mln from Debitel merger – Germany

According to Joachim Preisig, Chief Operations and Integrations Officer of Freenet, the company predicts synergies amounting to EUR 212 million (USD 272.72 million) in 2011 from its merger with Debitel. Thereafter he predicts synergies of EUR 100 million (USD 128.64 million) annually. Freenet is also planning to rebrand all of its stores under the Mobilcom Debitel brand.

Freenet became Germany’s third largest mobile operator after its acquisition of Debitel in July 2008, with a subscriber base of 19.9 million at the end of the third quarter of 2008, up from 5.9 million in the previous quarter.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

PLDT banks on MVNO service for higher revenues – Philippines

According to Alfredo Panlilio, President of PLDT Global Corp., the company is expected to generate 50% higher revenues in 2009 than it did in 2008. The expected revenues will come from higher remittances and the patronage of MVNO services by Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Hong Kong, Singapore and Italy. PLDT Global Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of PLDT, the leading telecom operator in The Philippines.

PLDT launched its MVNO service in Hong Kong and Singapore in 2004 as “1528 Smart” (in partnership with Hong Kong CSL Ltd.) and “Smart Pinoy” (in partnership with Mobile One), respectively. PLDT started MVNO service in Italy in 2008, which has the highest concentration of OFWs (approximately 200,000) in Europe. Commenting on the company’s operations,

Alfredo commented: “With Italy, we are now looking at about USD 60 million in revenues for PLDT Global this year. This is compared to the USD 40 million revenues we incurred last year.”