Friday, 20 March 2009

Debitel restructures pricing – The Netherlands

Dutch MVNO Debitel has announced it will alter its pricing plans after being taken over by KPN. The company will slim down the number of plans it offers, down to three from nine. There are also rumoured price hikes to be in the works, up to about 50% for some plans.

This really signals that Debitel is no longer an MVNO operating on an MNO’s network and has now become a subsidiary or brand of their hosting MNO.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Lebara Mobile wins Innovative Service award – UK

Lebara Mobile has won the Innovative Service award at the Mobile News Awards in London on March 18th.

The Innovative Service award is judged on functionality, benefits, uniqueness, design / packaging, value for money and consumer acceptance. The judges commented that the Lebara Mobile SIM was: “The first to market with a true price breakthrough for a simple international calling product that has rapidly attracted a diverse, high value prepay market.”

On receiving the award, Lebara Mobile’s Chief Executive Officer, Yoganathan Ratheesan commented: “We are really delighted to have been recognised for our innovation and everyone at Lebara Mobile can be extremely proud of what has been achieved since our UK launch. But our biggest thanks go to our 600,000 customers. The fact that they value our simplicity, convenience and low-cost calling makes Lebara the award winning company it is today.”

Lebara Mobile was founded in 2001 as part of the Lebara Group which now generates annual sales in excess of EUR 180 million and switches call volumes of more than 2 billion minutes annually.

Zantel introduces new tariff – Tanzania

Tanzanian MVNO Zantel has released details about their new airtime package called BabKubwa Mtelezo. The package will see customers accrue free airtime worth TZS 1,000 (USD 0.78) and 10 free text messages when they top up their mobile account with TZS 2,000 (USD 1.52) worth of credit. The airtime will only be eligible for Zantel to Zantel calls, although the free texts can be sent to any network.

Transatel launches international calling tariff – The Netherlands

Transatel, who operate several MVNOs across Western Europe, has announced that it will introduce an international calling tariff for its operation in The Netherlands. Transatel claim that the tariff will allow users to make international calls at local rates, making a saving of around 70% compared to other telecom operators claims Transatel.

CBB to offer mobile broadband – Denmark

Danish low-cost MVNO CBB has declared that it will start to offer its existing customers mobile broadband.

Although CBB’s rivals, Telmore and M1, have already added mobile broadband to their product line-up CBB’s Chief Executive Officer, Lars Asger Peterson, defended their late entry by saying that CBB wanted to make sure that the product lived up to customer expectations.

CBB’s mobile broadband offering will be marketed in two versions, one with a fixed monthly rate of 168 Kroner (USD 30.40) and the other charged at 25 Kroner (USD 4.52) a day. The service is expected to have a real world speed of around 800-1000kbps. CBB has stated that there will not be any lengthy contracts or connection fees for their mobile broadband.

Allmobility announces Allmobil package – Germany

German MVNO Allmobility has introduced a new mobile prepaid service under the name of Allmobil. Allmobility, who use Vodafone Germany’s network, has reported that the starter pack will cost EUR 19.99 and will give customers EUR 15 of call time and an Allmobility SIM card.

Allmobil tariff customers will be charged EUR 0.09 a minute for calls to German mobile and fixed line numbers. Text messages sent to a German mobile number will also be charged at EUR 0.09 each.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Virgin Mobile USA plans touch-screen phone launch - USA

Virgin Mobile USA, an MVNO that uses Sprint Nextel's network, plans to enter the smartphone market by launching touch-screen handsets. Dan Schulman revealed the move at the Dow Jones Wireless Innovations conference. The operator, which targets the youth market in the low and middle-income segment, did not enter the smartphone market initially since Virgin believed that most consumers would not be able to afford them.

However, Schulman, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Mobile USA, believes that demand for smartphones is increasing and they might capture 50% of the market over the next three to five years. No details have been revealed by the company regarding the touch-screen phones or the date of their launch.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Comcast to launch mobile Internet using Clearwire’s network - USA

Comcast, a leading provider of cable, entertainment and communications products and services, is planning to introduce mobile Internet in Portland, Oregon, by mid-year, using Clearwire’s WiMAX network under an MVNO agreement. Comcast will buy Clearwire’s service at wholesale prices and resell it under its own brand name, to offer services comprising television, phone and fixed Internet. The deal comes as a welcome development for Clearwire and will boost its plans to build a nationwide 4G broadband network. Comcast has invested USD 1 billion in Clearwire.

Late last year, Clearwire entered into an MVNO agreement with Sprint Nextel, a leading telecommunications services provider, to enhance its broadband reach in the market. Clearwire plans to expand its subscriber base, targeting nearly 120 million Americans in 80 markets by the end of 2010. The telco aims to cover the regions of Atlanta, Las Vegas, Chicago, Charlotte, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Honolulu, Philadelphia and Seattle by the end of 2009; and the markets of New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Houston and the San Francisco Bay area by 2010.

Uno Mobile launches new tariffs - Italy

Uno Mobile, an MVNO of supermarket chain Gruppo Carrefour Italia, has launched a new tariff, Uno Mobile 9. The new tariff offers national calls to wireline and wireless phones at EUR 0.09 (USD 0.12) per minute, with an additional call set-up fee of EUR 0.16 (USD 0.21).

Uno Mobile also offers SMS at EUR 0.09 (USD 0.12) per message under the plan. The plan additionally allows users to activate Scelgo Te for EUR 1 (USD 1.29), which allows calls (and SMS) to a selected Uno Mobile number for EUR 0.03 (USD 0.04) per minute.

Primus Telecom files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection - USA

Primus Telecommunications Group, operator of several MVNOs, has filed for bankruptcy protection in the District of Delaware, USA.

It was revealed through court documents that the company owes between USD 500 million and USD 1 billion dollars and has assets totalling between USD 100 million and USD 500 million.

Primus produced over 80% of its sales (which totalled USD 231 million) from outside the United States. Moody’s dealt a blow to Primus in December last year after it lowered its credit rating in expectation that Primus would default on a long term USD 23 million debt.

The company’s 1,817 employees, who are spread over the USA, UK, Canada and Australia, will not be affected by these latest proceedings.

Virgin Mobile adds Paymo mobile payment platform - USA

Virgin Mobile has partnered with Paymo to introduce mobile payments to its operations. The agreement will allow Virgin Mobile customers to use their handsets to make online purchases (wherever they see the Paymo logo) instead of paying by more traditional methods such as debit or credit card.

Paul McGuire, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Paymo commented: “Merchant and consumer demand for Paymo is exploding around the world because this is the payment solution the online world has been waiting for. Online games, social networks and virtual worlds are driving the transition to a new business model based on free-to-play and virtual goods. These new multi-billion dollar revenue streams can only exist with the right payments network. Paymo is that solution and is already enabling merchants around the world to turn this multi-billion dollar potential into real revenue."

The Virgin Mobile announcement comes as T-Mobile and AT&T also declared that they would introduce the Paymo mobile payment platform to their networks. Paymo is now active in over 45 markets around the globe.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Mobilking faces uncertain future - Poland

The future of Polish MVNO, Mobilking, has been called in to question after it failed to reach its financier’s customer revenue generation target. Although the MVNO has around 100,000 customers the company estimates that only 30 to 50 percent of its user base generates revenue.

The MVNO’s troubles have been attributed to significant market introduction expenditure, low penetration and the global economic slowdown. These factors have prevented Mobilking from gaining a bigger share of the competitive Polish mobile market.