Friday, 10 April 2009

CMT reduces mobile termination fees – Spain

The Spanish telecommunications regulator, ComisiĆ³n del Mercado de las Telecomunicaciones (CMT), has announced that it plans to cut mobile termination fees to EUR 0.07 a minute.

The termination fee cut will come in to force from the 16th of April and it will encompass all MNOs and MVNOs, aside from Yoigo who shall continue on the old EUR 0.10 a minute fee.

CMT declared that these latest reduced termination fees will remain in force until the 16th of October, after which it is expected that fee will be trimmed even further.

Tommy Telecom loses court case to KPN – The Netherlands

KPN has won the legal battle against Tommy Telecom, a rapidly growing MVNO in the Netherlands, over defective services. The court has ruled its judgement in favour of KPN and going forward the company will discontinue its services (provided via an MVNE, Aspider) to the MVNO’s subscribers.

Tommy Telecom has been ordered to pay all of the court’s expenses along with any outstanding bills. As a result, Tommy Telecom will have to shell out around EUR 114,695 (USD 151,924) together with a bank guarantee for a further EUR 200,000 (USD 264,918). Additionally, by 26 April, bank guarantee is required to be raised to EUR 389,604 (USD 516,066), under penalty of further fines.

As mentioned in our previous issue, Tommy Telecom had dragged KPN to court over defective services. Additionally, KPN had threatened to shut down its services to Tommy Telecom over the latter’s move to leave KPN. Tommy Telecom is understood to have moved to T-Mobile Netherland’s network via a Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) agreement with MVNE Elephant Talk.

According to KPN, the company had payment problems with Tommy Telecom. Tommy Telecom had denied such allegations and said that it had paid all bills to KPN. However, the dispute over costs of EUR 400,000 (USD 529,836) for HLR services still remained.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Virgin Mobile introduces ‘Pink Slip Protection’ – USA

Virgin Mobile USA has introduced a unique programme called ‘Pink Slip Protection’ which will see the MVNO waive up to three months of charges in the event that the customer loses their job.

To be eligible for the ‘Pink Slip Protection’ programme customers need to have been with Virgin Mobile for two consecutive months prior to any job loss.

Virgin Mobile Chief Executive Officer, Dan Schulman, said that job losses “tend to impact our prepaid base more than many wireless users, so we hope this program can offer some peace of mind to our customers.”

Virgin Mobile unveils texting plan – USA

Virgin Mobile USA has announced that it will introduce a new prepay plan aimed at prolific texters. The new plan, dubbed Texter’s Delight, will include unlimited text messages, instant messaging, email, photo and video messaging for USD 19.99 a month. Virgin Mobile will also offer a reduced price plan giving 1,000 text messages for USD 14.99 a month. As both plans are targeted at heavy duty texters there will be no inclusive minutes and any voice calls that are made will be charged at USD 0.10 a minute.

Virgin Mobile cuts unlimited calling plan to USD 50 a month – USA

Virgin Mobile USA has announced that it will cut the price of its unlimited calling plan from USD 80 to USD 50 a month. The plan will be available from April the 15th 2009 and current customers who pay USD 80 a month will need to contact Virgin Mobile USA to switch over to the new plan.

Virgin Mobile, who uses the Sprint network, is the latest entrant to the crowded USD 50 unlimited calling plan price point, joining T-Mobile USA, Leap, MetroPCS and Boost Mobile. Virgin Mobile’s Jayne Wallace said the move was "definitely a response to the marketplace."

The new Virgin Mobile unlimited plan does not include mobile data free of charge, which costs an additional USD 5 or USD 10 a month depending on usage, compared to other members of the USD 50 unlimited calling club who offer mobile data free as standard.

Rob Shardlow quits Virgin Media – UK

Rob Shardlow, Indirect Sales Director at Virgin Media, has left the company after serving the business for almost nine years. He was also a part of the senior management team, which first launched the MVNO in the prepay market.

Shardlow worked with the company as its Indirect Sales Director since NTL’s purchase of Virgin Mobile in 2006 (and subsequent rebranding as Virgin Media) and headed Virgin Media’s quad-play mobile, Internet, fixed line and television third-party retail sales.

Commenting on the Shardlow’s exit, Pete Taddeo, Managing Director of Consumer Sales at Virgin Media, said: “Rob has been a great ambassador for the brand and has made a tremendous contribution to the business. He leaves us in great shape and I wish him every success in the future.”

UnoMobile helps support rescue efforts – Italy

MVNO UnoMobile, who uses the Vodafone Italia network, has pledged support for the earthquake rescue efforts being made in the Abruzzo region. UnoMobile has activated a ‘solidarity’ number, 48580, which will enable mobile users to donate EUR 2 every time the number is called.

Rabo Mobiel plans job cuts – The Netherlands

Rabo Mobiel, a Netherlands-based MVNO of Rabobank, is planning to slash jobs and restrict its ambitious targets for the next few years. According to Frank Meerts, Chief Financial Officer of Rabo Mobiel, the mobile payments market was flat owing to the global economic crisis.

Rabo Mobiel manages around 30,000 consumer mobile wallets. Mobile payment services are experiencing a slow and steady increase in the number of vendors which Rabo Mobiel would want to counter in the coming years. Rabo Mobiel also aims to add iPhone to its portfolio of services.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Auchan postpones MVNO launch – Portugal

Auchan, the leading French supermarket chain, has deferred the launch of its MVNO service in Portugal. According to Eduardo Igrejas, President of Auchan Portugal, the company will first monitor the economic conditions in the country before taking any decision on the MVNO. He added that the group has “other strategic options” to implement apart from the launch of MVNO in the country. Auchan had received the MVNO licence in November 2007 from ANACOM, the Portuguese telecommunications sector regulator.

Tele2 Netherlands fined – The Netherlands

Dutch MVNO and telecommunications company Tele2 Netherlands has been fined EUR 70,000 by the De Consumentenautoriteit (Consumer Authority). The fine was imposed after complaints were made to the CA regarding Tele2’s improper solicitation of customers signing up for telephone subscriptions.

The complaints received allege that Tele2’s external call centres were not providing customers with sufficient information regarding cost and duration of agreements during sales calls. The complaints also stated that details were not described or explained in sufficient detail by follow-up letter.

Fastweb unveil new calling plans and announces new CFO – Italy

In addition to its fixed line and broadband price re-structuring Fastweb has unveiled its new line-up of prepaid and postpaid mobile services. The new prepaid calling plan will cost EUR 5.90 a month and will come with free calls to the customers fixed line number and to Fastweb customers. Postpay customers will get 250 cross network minutes, 50 cross network texts, 500 Fastweb network minutes, 100 Fastweb text messages and 50mb of data usage for EUR 19.90 a month. The same plan with a subsidised phone will cost EUR 23 a month.

Fastweb also reported that it has appointed Peter Burmeister as its future Chief Financial Officer. Peter Burmeister will replace incumbent Chief Financial Officer Mario Rossi on the 1st of July.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Ex-Vodafone executive mulls new MVNO venture – UK

According to Mobile News, Keith Curran, Founder of Yes Telecom, is working on a new service provision or MVNO arrangement, specifically with O2 and Orange (Vodafone’s main competitors) in the UK. Curran left Vodafone at the end of last year. He refused to comment on the new project, possibly to be named as ‘No Telecom’ or ‘Know Telecom’. However, he admitted discussions with potential partners and work towards the establishment of a management team to launch the new venture.

Keith Curran said: “I have discussed with network operators something intrinsic and secure in the business sector; to use my understanding and links to the dealer market. The world has moved on from Yes Telecom. I have massive respect for the job it does, but the market has changed and we need new ways to service dealers’ changing views and requirements. A contemporary service provider shouldn’t be a hopper for connections that don’t deliver long-term value to the network. It has to be about giving dealers things that make them relevant to SMEs.”

“To be honest, I’m not remotely interested in competing with what is already in the market. Networks want professionals with extremely good relationships with SMEs – and that does not mean just mobile phone dealers. We should be clear on that. I would look to work closely with IT and fixed line resellers as well.”

Lycamobile signs MVNO agreement with Vodafone – The Netherlands

Lycamobile, an ethnic market MVNO, has entered into an agreement with Vodafone Netherlands, its second network provider in the Dutch market, for offering MVNO services. Lycamobile is already working with T-Mobile in the country, where it first launched in 2006. Lycamobile has received the approval for the venture from the Independent Post and Telecommunications Authority or Onafhankelijke Post en Telecommunicatie Authoriteit (OPTA).

Lycamobile has around 1.3 million prepay customers with T-Mobile, which will be shifted to the Vodafone network upon expiry of the contract with T-Mobile. The deal is likely to upset Lycamobile’s network partners, as well as alarm the competing ethnic market MVNOs (having a partnership with Vodafone in other geographies).

Lycamobile has earmarked approximately USD 5 million for the marketing of the new partnership in the Netherlands. The SIM cards and top-ups will be available at more than 30,000 retail outlets, including Albert Heijn, Media Markt, Lekkerland, Debitel, Jumbo Supermarkten, Shell and Esso.

Commenting on the agreement, Milind Kangle, Chief Executive Officer of Lycamobile, said: “We are delighted to have signed this partnership deal with Vodafone Netherlands, and chose it for its dedicated partnership approach to the MVNO market and its superior network coverage and quality."

Monday, 6 April 2009

Tommy Telecom drags KPN to court over defective service – The Netherlands

Tommy Telecom, a rapidly growing MVNO in the Netherlands, has taken court action against KPN over poor services offered to the operator. According to Tommy Telecom, KPN had assured to correct a serious fault in its service provision, following the integration of Telfort’s mobile network. However, after the fault was not addressed by KPN for quite sometime, Tommy Telecom decided to move to another network provider. Subsequently, KPN closed down all of Tommy Telecom’s subscribers, which prompted the court action.

Tommy Telecom’s customers have been provided with new SIM cards which specify that the company has changed to ElephantTalk (using T-Mobile Netherlands’ network) from Aspider. According to Tommy Telecom, T-Mobile’s network will provide more possibilities, such as call-back functions for customers abroad, as compared to KPN, who are yet to respond on the case.

Moreminutes expands relationship with DIGITALK – Spain

Moreminutes has announced a new prepaid mobile service under the brand name LlamayA movil, to be offered using DIGITALK’s Multiservice Platform. Moreminutes is a Spanish fully integrated MVNO, which has collaborated with a leading European MNO, to offer international mobile calling.

Moreminutes has been using DIGITALK’s services (for prepaid calling cards) since 2001. The new service will enable the company to utilise the Least Cost Routing capabilities of DIGITALK Multiservice Platform to support international call routing. This will help Moreminutes to maximise call margins, while maintaining a competitively priced service.

Commenting on the new service, Hector Najjar, Sales and Marketing Director of Moreminutes, said: “DIGITALK proved that their prepaid solution for mobile was as suited to our market as is the DIGITALK prepaid calling card platform, which they are well known for in Spain. Ultimately, the DIGITALK solution had the exact features we needed for our service, and the rating engine is a key to our success to offer our customers a competitive rate for international mobile calls.”

Mark Ashdown, Sales and Marketing Director of DIGITALK, added: “It is important to note that this is the first fully integrated MVNO working with a leading European Mobile Network Operator. The DIGITALK Prepaid Mobile solution enables service providers to differentiate themselves from resellers that do not have any control over rates and charging. Moreminutes now have the ability to respond very quickly to their customers which is distinct advantage.”

Virgin Mobile regains NYSE listing compliance – USA

Virgin Mobile USA has announced the restoration of compliance with the New York Stock Exchange’s (NYSE) minimum share price requirement of USD 1 for continued listing standards. According to Virgin Mobile, the company’s 30-day average share price (as of March 31) was registered at USD 1.19.

In November 2008, Virgin Mobile had received letters of non-compliance from the NYSE, as both the share price and market capitalisation dropped below the minimum requirements for continued listing. Though, Virgin Mobile has met the minimum share price requirements, it has yet not satisfied the minimum market capitalisation requirement of above USD 100 million (on an average) for two consecutive quarters, the deadline for which is May 2010.

Vectone offers free international weekend calls – Norway

Vectone, an international calling MVNO, has introduced a new free international weekend calling scheme, applicable at selected popular destinations, for its customers in Norway. Under the scheme, with every top-up in the week, subscribers will receive free minutes to more than 10 destinations the following weekend. The number of free minutes will be determined by the amount of top-up purchased, which will increase with the amount of credit.

Commenting on the new scheme, Jon Fisher, Chief Marketing Officer of Vectone, said: “We want to demonstrate to our Norwegian customers that Vectone are always looking to provide incredible value and whenever possible reward to our customers with great offers that we feel are unbeatable."