Saturday, 4 April 2009

Wireless Circle updates voice and messaging plans – The Netherlands

The Dutch student aimed MVNO, Wireless Circle, has revealed that it has altered its calling and text messaging line up. The MVNO has announced that it will restrict the number of free minutes it offers from 3600 down to 1000 and increase the amount of text messages its customers receive from 60 to 1000. Wireless Circle will also raise the price of calls outside the inclusive allowance from EUR 0.19 per minute to EUR 0.22 per minute.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Bay Mobile announce extended operating hours - Malta

Maltese MVNO Bay Mobile has released its plans to extend their contact centre opening hours, to bring a sense of parity with their retail stores, which open from 10am to 10pm Monday to Sunday.

“Our customers have asked and we have listened. Fortunately there are very few reasons to actually call a call centre given the depth of our website and the elimination of most technical issues. However, customers like to know that it is there in case they require some additional help or service. Our SMS bundles are currently only purchased through our call centre or our retail outlet and the demand has been overwhelming necessitating this move,” said Simon De Cesare, Bay Mobile Chief executive.

De Cesare continued: “We will also be imminently launching our mobile web data tariffs, allowing browsing of the internet from your phone, which will also require some input when it comes to handset settings.

International players eying Indian telecom market via MVNO route - India

A green signal from the government to allow MVNOs in India has left many companies considering the launch of their mobile offerings. It is understood that Ericsson and Nokia will soon start their mobile service, which will provide them an edge over others as they would be present throughout value chain (handsets, back office, network equipment and operator services).

Various others, such as Telekom Malaysia, Mobile ESPN, BT and ValueFirst (who to this point have claimed to be an MVNO within the messaging market) have shown their interest in launching MVNO services in India. As reported in last week’s issue, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has set a maximum MVNO entry fee of INR 850 million (USD 16.4 million) for a pan-India licence. The fee for metro and circle A states will be INR 50 million (USD 0.95 million) while the licence fee for circle B and circle C states has been fixed at INR 30 million (USD 0.57 million) and INR 10 million (USD 0.19 million), respectively.

Virgin Mobile declares quarterly and full year results - USA

Virgin Mobile USA has declared its Q4 and full year results for 2008. Virgin registered a net loss of USD 4.4 million in Q4 2008, as compared to a net loss of USD 14.7 million in Q4 2007. However, the company has shown an increase in its net income to USD 7.9 million for 2008, as compared to USD 4.2 million in 2007. Virgin has also seen an increase of 6% in its subscriber base in 2008.

The prepaid MVNO witnessed a decline in their rate of CHURN to 4.8% in Q4 2008, against 5.5% in Q3 2008 and 5.1% in Q4 2007. Virgin Mobile reported a 4% increase in ARPU to USD 21.14 in Q4 2008. However, the ARPU declined 4% for the full year to USD 20.30, as compared to USD 21.24 in 2007. According to the Virgin Mobile, ARPU in Q4 was boosted by the launch of its hybrid plans from Q2 2008.

NRJ Mobile social networking to My NRJMobile – France

NRJ Mobile has included the social networking website Moblr within My NRJMobile, its mobile web portal. NRJ Mobile customers will be able to manage and modify their Moblr online profile, add videos, photos and contribute to online forums through the WAP portal.

NRJ Mobile is a youth orientated MVNO which uses the Orange France network and have been operating since October 2005.

Virgin Mobile announce unlimited pay as you go tariff – UK

Virgin Mobile has introduced an innovative new pay as you go tariff called Addict. The tariff will give any Virgin Mobile pay as you go customers, who purchase a GBP 20 top-up every month, unlimited texts and mobile browsing (subject to a fair usage policy).

Alongside Virgin Mobile’s GBP 20 a month pay as you go Addict tariff they also offer a sliding scale of tariffs, including 600 free texts for GBP 15 a month and 300 texts for GBP 10 a month.

The fair usage policy attached to the new Addict tariff includes a 3,000 limit for texts messages and a 25mb cap on mobile data usage (with a 1gb monthly download limit), similar to other UK operators. Outside of this fair usage policy texts will be charged at GBP 0.10 each and GBP 0.30 for daily web access; calls will still cost a flat rate of GBP 0.20 per minute, in line with the previous pay as you go tariffs.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Lebara Mobile to set go begin – Australia

Lebara Mobile has announced that it will begin operations as an MVNO targeting low-cost international callers living in Australia. Lebara Mobile has chosen to extend its MVNO partnership it currently has with Vodafone by using the Vodafone Australia network, as it does in Spain and the United Kingdom.

Lebara Mobile will seek to create a facsimile of its operations throughout Western and Northern Europe, by offering domestic calls through its MNO partner and low-cost international calls routed through its international switching network.

The MVNO will offer its SIM cards on a pre-pay basis which will be able to be inserted and used with any unlocked mobile handset. The SIM cards will be distributed through independent retailers and resellers, such as newsagents and service stations throughout Sydney and Melbourne.

Lebara Mobile also announced that it will offer its low-cost international calls from a minimum of AUS 5 cents a minute to China and AUS 9 cents a minute to countries such as the USA and the UK.

Lebara Mobile, Founder and Chief Executive, Yoganathan Ratheesan said: "The Lebara Mobile offering allows customers to treat international calling as part of their day-to-day life using a prepay mobile phone SIM, rather than having to find a landline to call friends and family abroad. We are providing, for the first time, a simple, clear and low pricing structure that doesn't cut minutes and is more transparent than other international calling rates and offers. An extremely competitive pricing structure, coupled with multi-lingual customer services via phone and online, is a unique offer for this large potential customer base who currently show little loyalty to any one international calling provider."

Vodafone Australia, Chief Financial Officer, Dave Boorman said: "Lebara Mobile has been a partner with Vodafone since launching in Spain in 2007 and then the UK later that year. The partnership has been an outstanding success and we are delighted to welcome the company as an MVNO partner in the Australian market."

Carrefour UnoMobile rewards shopping with top-ups – Italy

Carrefour UnoMobile has introduced a new campaign which seeks to further the integration between the MVNO and Carrefour supermarkets. The promotion will give customers who purchase any assortment of 10 Carrefour, GS or DiperDi branded products a top-up of EUR 5.50.

Holders of the Carta SpesAmica loyalty card will receive promotional material through the post. Promotional literature will also be situated throughout Carrefour supermarkets. The EUR 5.50 top-up has no expiry date and can be used to call all networks. To be eligible for the reward Carrefour UnoMobile customers must top-up at least once a month.

Carrefour, which uses the Vodafone Italia network, has been active since June 2007 and is aimed at the mass consumer market.

ReCellular to supply refurbished phones to Page Plus – USA

ReCellular, a leading cell phone recycling firm, has signed a deal with Page Plus, a leading US-based MVNO operating on the Verizon Wireless network, under which ReCellular will provide around 500,000 refurbished phones to Page Plus in 2009. Page Plus customers will be able to purchase like-new handsets and save on an average USD 150, as compared to a new phone.

On an average, ReCellular collects 25,000 handsets each working day and expects to accumulate over 6 million phones in 2009. Out of the total, approximately half of the handsets are processed, commercially renewed, reprogrammed and then packaged for reuse by companies, such as Page Plus.

Commenting on the deal, Chuck Newman, Chief Executive Officer of ReCellular, said: “In these challenging times, everyone is looking to get the most value for their dollar. With Page Plus, we are able to save wireless customers a phenomenal amount of money while providing a user experience identical to buying a new phone. Buying a refurbished phone is a rare opportunity to save money, protect the environment, and receive an excellent product. We are proud to work with Page Plus to develop a successful, sustainable model for the wireless industry."

Vectone eyes expansion via inorganic route – UK

Vectone, a UK-based international calling MVNO, has announced that it has made an offer to acquire two MNO subsidiaries of Nordisk Mobiltelefon in Ireland and Poland. Nordisk Mobiltelefon is the Scandinavian telecom group, which recently filed for bankruptcy in Norway and Sweden. The transaction is expected to prove beneficial for Vectone’s already existing networks across Austria, Denmark, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Norway.

In order to provide the support in both native and other languages, as well as increase the service levels in each of its territories, Vectone has also built a multilingual customer service team at its UK headquarters, backed by its existing Chennai call centre.

Commenting on the company’s strategy, Baskaran Allirajah, Chief Executive Officer of Vectone, said: “This offer underlines the continuing implementation of our strategy to offer a truly pan-European, mobile network. We are dedicated to delivering low cost national and international calling. Adding native coverage to our successful MVNO operations underlines our commitment to our customers in every country."

Commenting on the development, Jon Fisher, Chief Marketing Officer of Vectone, said: “We are delighted that we are able to increase first call resolution through having a call centre on site to support our European Operations. We believe that low cost should not mean low service levels and are investing in infrastructure to deliver on our vision of Total Service Quality."

Virgin Mobile introduces Opera and Connect – USA

Virgin Mobile USA has reported that it will start offering its Connect social networking application for its prepaid customers. Connect – which has been available to contract customers from November 2008 – allows Virgin Mobile users to connect to and aggregate status updates from social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace. Connect will also give users the chance to upload photos to Flickr and videos to YouTube. Virgin Mobile is planning to make Connect available for Shuttle, Jax and X-tc handsets.

Virgin Mobile USA has also entered into an agreement with Opera, a Norway-based developer of software solutions, specifically web browsers. Under the terms of the agreement, Virgin Mobile will distribute the Opera Mini browser on eight of its mobile phones, including Samsung Slash, Virgin Mobile Arc, Virgin Mobile Shuttle and Virgin Super Slice.

The MVNO also announced that it would be launching a new range of data packs. Prepaid customers will be offered 5mb of data for USD 5, 20mb of data for USD 10 and 50mb for USD 20. Postpaid customers will be offered 20mb for USD 5 and 50mb of data for 10 USD.

According to Virgin Mobile, customers will be able to use the facility starting April 14. Opera Mini will be available as a free download through VirginXL storefront. In addition, Virgin Mobile will preinstall the browser on selected upcoming Virgin mobile handsets.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Lebara Mobile begins April promotion – UK

British MVNO Lebara Mobile, which uses the Vodafone UK network, has started offering its customers promotional calls and texts to other Lebara Mobile users for the duration of April.

Lebara Mobile customers will be able to take advantage of free text messages and 15 minutes of free calls. Once all 15 minutes of free calls have been used any further calls between Lebara customers will cost 10 pence a minute.

Lebara Chief Operating Officer, Tim Wort said. "This fantastic promotion is genuinely different to those offered by other companies. Lebara Mobile customers can make calls and send texts to other Lebara customers within the UK free of charge, with no connection fee. I’m sure our customers will appreciate a little extra help in keeping their costs down."

KPN denies bid for French UMTS licence – France

KPN has denied rumours about the company’s plan to bid for the French UMTS licence. According to a KPN spokesperson, building a network right from the scratch requires huge investment. He added that the company is satisfied with its MVNO agreement with Bouygues Telecom.

At the start of 2009, KPN launched its MVNO offering under the brand ‘Simyo’ in France by using the network capacity of Bouygues Telecom.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Tiscali reports increase in net loss during FY 2008 – Italy

Tiscali, a leading Italian ISP with an MVNO agreement with Telecom Italia, reported an increase in its net loss to EUR 242.7 million (USD 322.62 million) for 2008 from EUR 65.3 million (USD 86.80 million) in 2007. Though, the revenues of the company increased 11.4% to reach EUR 983.6 million (USD 1,307.49 million). Tiscali’s revenues in Italy, its home market, also registered an increase of 7.4% to EUR 313.5 million (USD 416.73 million) in 2008.

According to Tiscali, the company will focus on the simplification of the product portfolio and other ‘value for money’ propositions, such as double-play and MVNO activities, improving customer channels and management, increasing network capacity and reducing operating costs within Italy.

Renna signs Convergys for prepaid services – Oman

Renna, the MVNO brand of Omani-based Majan Telecommunication, has entered into an agreement with Convergys Corporation under which Convergys will provide prepaid services to mobile subscribers in Oman through its subsidiary Intervoice, a leading personalised, multi-channel automated information solutions provider.

Convergys, through its Relationship Technology Management business unit, has already implemented components of the prepaid solution, such as real-time rating, self-service and value-added services for Renna in Oman. In addition, Convergys had provided network-level support to assist Renna in integrating with the large network.

Commenting on the agreement, Niklas Nielsen, Chief Executive Officer of Renna, said: “We partnered with Convergys, a world leader in relationship management, because it shares our vision for the telecommunications industry in the Sultanate. Convergys’ state-of-the-art, integrated solutions enable us to create and define the Renna experience for our customers and provide high flexibility and user friendliness. With Convergys, we can offer modern services to our customers, who will benefit from flexible tariff plans we’ve tailored to their specific needs, as well as a range of innovative value-added services which are different from what is available in our market today.”

Jim Boyce, President, Global Business Units at Convergys, added: “MVNOs like Renna look to differentiate themselves from the competition by offering innovative services that define their brand and drive customer loyalty. Deploying flexible, quick-to-launch solutions that support their vision and strategy are a key priority. Convergys understands Renna’s needs and has delivered an all-in-one MVNO solution that provides the operator with the proven solutions and consultancy know-how it needs to launch its exciting new service in the Middle East region.”

Lebara Mobile eyes ethnic market outside London – UK

Lebara Mobile, a low-cost ethnic market MVNO, is expanding its reach to grab a share of the market outside London. Lebara Mobile is now planning to develop outlets and reach resellers in ethnic areas of the North-West and the Midlands (covering Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and Newcastle). Lebara Mobile has already developed a distribution network of 5,000 outlets (primarily small independent stores) in areas with a high proportion of immigrants and second generation immigrants to the UK.

Lebara Mobile, by offering cheap international calls and targeting the migrant population in the UK, attracted around 60,000 customers to its network within their first year of its operation.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Carphone Warehouse selects Mi-Pay for Talkmobile MVNO – UK

Carphone Warehouse, a leading independent mobile phone retailer, has selected Mi-Pay, a leading mobile payments provider, to offer mobile and online top-up services for its latest MVNO brand, Talkmobile.

According to Carphone Warehouse, Mi-Pay, through its top-up offerings, has been playing a pivotal role in enhancing the subscriber base for the company, registering an 88% improvement on customer lifetime value. The top-up provider allows subscribers to manage and top-up their accounts directly from their handsets, online and through a web interface.

Commenting on the occasion, Scott Stewart, Director of Operations and Customer Loyalty, said: "Mi-Pay has proven its ability to deliver market leading, innovative top-up and direct channel services that add direct value to our bottom line. Transforming top-up from a service requirement into a unique loyalty building tool; it has lowered cost of delivery by 30%; boosted average top-up values by 12%; and improved customer retention by 20%, over traditional top-up methods. This can add up to an extra GBP 200 (USD 286.37) of customer lifetime value to a mobile operator or MVNO brand."

Norman Frankel, Chief Executive officer of Mi-Pay, said: "We are delighted to prove that our top-up solutions are, once again, delivering real added value to our customers; particularly in the current economic climate. Carphone Warehouse's decision to work with Mi-Pay on Talkmobile, its flagship MVNO brand, is testament to the trust they have in our innovative, secure and reliable service - and its revenue generating ability."

Primus Canada to expand employee base in Edmundston – Canada

Primus Canada, a leading MVNO subsidiary of Primus Group, is planning to increase its staffing levels by generating 113 new jobs, adding to their existing 200 employees, at its Edmundston customer contact centre in New Brunswick, Canada. According to Greg Byrne, Minister of Business, New Brunswick, the initiative is a part of the government's commitment to make economic development a priority for the region. Primus Telecommunications Canada will also be granted a forgivable loan of $7,500 for each of the 113 jobs created at the centre.

Greg Byrne added: "Our government is proud to support this thriving member of our customer contact centre industry. The strength of New Brunswick's knowledge industry is demonstrated when firms like Primus Canada continue to expand their strong base in our province. Our goal of a self-sufficient New Brunswick is closer to success when we partner with the private sector to create lasting employment for the people of New Brunswick."

Commenting on the development, Andrew Day, Senior Vice President of Residential Services at Primus Canada said: "Based on the continued success of our Edmundston Call Centre operation, Primus Canada is thrilled to create more employment opportunities for residents of New Brunswick, and at the same time provide more Canadian-based Customer Service for our valued customers across Canada."

Lebara partners with Vodafone for prepaid SIM card launch – Australia

Lebara Mobile, a low-cost ethnic market MVNO, has entered into an agreement with Vodafone Australia to launch a new prepaid mobile SIM card service (for both local and international calls) in Australia. Under the terms of the agreement, Vodafone Australia will provide the network infrastructure to Lebara Mobile, which will enable Lebara Mobile customers to make calls to numbers within Australia. e-pay Australia will provide the recharge voucher facility to subscribers using the new mobile SIM card service.

According to Yoganathan Ratheesan, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Lebara Mobile, the company will target the large migrant communities in cities such as Sydney and Melbourne (a market worth around USD 250 million), which typically use calling cards for making international calls.

This will avoid cannibalisation with Vodafone’s local and international call services. Ratheesan added: “Cannibalisation only impacts where there is a huge market share already owned by your partner. If we can bring in USD 100 million from the calling card segment, and you cannibalise just 1-2% of Vodafone’s national traffic, there will not make a huge difference. Overall Vodafone as a company will benefit from this relationship.”

Lebara Mobile will offer international calling at 9 cents per minute, which is very near to the calling card sector’s pricing. Lebara, by offering lower rates, will have to compete with VoIP services providers such as Skype.

Commenting on the company’s pricing strategy, Ratheesan added: “With VoIP services such as Skype you generally need a PC and Internet and the same on the other side. The segment we are targeting is not that technologically advanced or as sophisticated as the general population and broadband penetration is low. Generally, the quality of service on a VoIP call is not up to that of a TDM mobile call where you have a direct interconnect. So it is a completely different product targeting different ethnic groups so they are different products not competing.”

Dell to become MVNO using NTT network – Japan

Dell, through its Japanese operating division, is mulling the option of launching an MVNO offering in Japan by bundling its notebook PCs with built-in HSPA cards. Dell has already secured an MVNO licence from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication (MIC) and will utilise the network infrastructure of NTT DoCoMo for its MVNO service.

Customers will have to shell out around USD 500 for the notebooks, which will be made available from the summer. Dell will also offer a fixed amount of mobile broadband usage and an option for customers to pay by credit card for any additional usage.

WorldSIM to launch dual SIM card – UK

WorldSIM, a global roaming MVNO, has announced plans to launch its new dual IMSI UK-US SIM card at the CTIA Wireless 09 event being held in Las Vegas this week. The new SIM card will feature both a UK and a US mobile number attached to it. This will provide WorldSIM customers free roaming in the US as well as more than 55 other countries where the company already provides free roaming service.

Additionally, call charges from the US (both local and international) will be reduced to the level of European calling charges, thereby bringing the US and the UK on the same platform in terms of making and receiving calls.

The SIM card will be data ready and will offer various features, such as real-time itemised billing, call forwarding, call recording and other existing WorldSIM facilities. Commenting on the new launch, Arif Reza, Director at WorldSIM, said: “Our UK-US SIM will revolutionise how people keep in touch when they travel on both sides of the Atlantic - no longer needing 2 SIM cards. We are especially excited to be launching this SIM at CTIA, Las Vegas next month. Being in the US it will truly enable us to showcase the SIM's dual UK-US functionality and capability."

The new SIM has already attracted huge interest and pre-orders from existing distributors and customers. Several mobile operators from around the world have also expressed their interest in the SIM with the view of pairing their own country mobile numbers with the new dual IMSI SIM.

ROK aims to level the playing field for MVNOs – India

ROK Entertainment, developers of mobile TV and various other mobile content services, has begun operations in India, offering their suite of products to MNOs and MVNOs. The company is marketing this launch as an opportunity for MVNOs to be able to offer competitive offerings to subscribers in line with MNOs.

ROK Entertainment Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Jonathan Kendrick, 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 MVNOs to pro-actively poach customers from rival networks.”