Friday, 5 June 2009

Hong Kong registers increase in MVNO subscribers – Hong Kong

According to OFTA (Office of the Telecommunications Authority), the telecom regulator of Hong Kong, the number of mobile subscribers in Hong Kong has increased from 11.499 million in February 2009 to 11.580 million in March 2009.

The number of prepaid and 2.5G/3G users stood at 5.417 million and 3.697 million, respectively. Additionally, MVNO subscribers in the country increased from 769,509 in February 2009 to 774,932 in March 2009.

Virgin Mobile best post-paid provider according to survey – UK

A survey conducted by J.D. Power and Associates into the British mobile market has revealed that MVNO Virgin Mobile is the top post-pay provider in the United Kingdom.

According to the ‘2009 UK Mobile Phone Customer Satisfaction Study’ Virgin Mobile scored 718 points out of a maximum of 1,000 for the post-pay section of the survey, the third year in-a-row that it has topped the study.

Stuart Crawford-Browne, J.D. Power and Associates Senior Manager of Service Industries, said: “Providers that take care of their customers with ease of use, good value and loyalty incentives are more likely to prevail in this difficult economic environment. As the mobile phone market matures and experiences increasing convergence with other communications technology, customer expectations of their mobile phone provider are growing, and these customers expect more services and features from their providers.”

The study – now in its twelfth year – takes into account call quality, coverage, offers and promotions, billing (topping-up for the pay as you go section of the study), customer service and handset type are all taken into account to determine the total score for each company.

MVNOs also performed well in the pre-pay sector of the study with Tesco Mobile coming second overall scoring 710 points and Virgin Mobile slotting in to third with 691 points.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Patni aims to target telecom space – India

Patni Computers is gearing itself for potential future MVNO launches in India. Commenting on the development, Siddhartha Kataki, Associate Vice President at Patni, said: “A major part of mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) framework is developed by us. We can ensure that MVNOs can launch their operations in just 60 days.”

Patni is also planning to tap the potential demand for next generation telecom technologies, such as fixed-mobile convergence and long-term evolution (LTE) in India. Fixed-mobile convergence provides continuous connectivity to a user through his phone, while LTE is related to areas, such as multimedia online gaming and streaming of content.

Gesundplus launches - Germany

The German health insurance company Gesundplus has announced the launch of its MVNO service, which will be geared towards its current customers and their families.

The new MVNO offering, which sees the health insurer partnering with MVNE Ensercom, is heavily promoting the family element of the service by giving subscribers an extra four free SIM cards after purchasing an initial card for EUR 10 (USD 14.01). Although the service costs EUR 5 (USD 7) a month, calls between the family group will be free. Calls to other German networks will cost EUR 0.10 (USD 0.14) a minute.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

MTNL offers free incoming roaming calls and considers MVNO route – India

State run operator Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) is planning to utilise the MVNO model in order to increase its share in the CDMA market in India. MTNL has launched a new service whereby subscribers will be able to receive free incoming calls while roaming.

The service will be available to only MTNL’s Garuda CDMA Mobile service users in Delhi and Mumbai. The new service will be free of cost and all the outgoing calls will be charged INR 1 (USD 0.02) per call.

Fresh Mobile cuts off roaming – UK

Carphone Warehouse further pushed ahead this week with removing Fresh from its offering. The service was aimed at the cheap end of the pay as you go market and has been super ceded by Talkmobile. This week the operator informed their Fresh mobile subscribers via SMS that they would no longer be able to roam abroad using their Fresh SIM from 1 July 2009.

The SMS read: “Roaming no longer available from July 1. Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause. Contact 0870 111 0870 for further information quoting TRAVEL”.

XOX Com signs deal with Fujitsu – Malaysia

Malaysian MVNO XOX Com has signed an agreement with Japanese electronics giant Fujitsu. The agreement sees Fujitsu provide XOX Com with equipment and the ability to use its service orientated architecture (SOA) which increases the efficiency of IT systems.

XOX Com President Ng Kok Heng hoped that the deal will see an improvement in the customer experience, saying: “Soon our subscribers can expect (to enjoy) a rich user experience that includes a single charging platform, credit-limit configuration, and bill-payment mechanisms.” Commenting on the expected introduction of the agreement Ng Kok Heng added: “We are in the final stages of implementation with Fujitsu and other partners; we are due to roll out in Q3 of this year.”

Talkmobile introduces new tariffs – UK

British MVNO Talkmobile, which is owned by mobile retailer The Carphone Warehouse and uses the Vodafone network, has announced the introduction of a range of new SIM-only tariffs.

The rolling SIM-only tariffs will cost GBP 7.50 (USD 12.25), GBP 10 (USD 16.33) and GBP 12.50 (USD 20.42) a month respectively. The GBP 7.50 tariff will either come with 100 minutes and 100 text messages or 50 minutes and 300 texts, the GBP 10 tariff comes with either 200 minutes and 200 texts or 100 minutes and 600 texts and the GBP 12.50 tariff comes replete with 300 minutes and 300 texts or 150 minutes and unlimited texts. These new SIM-only tariffs will also come with free voicemail and unlimited mobile data for GBP 0.30 (US D 0.49) a day.

Talkmobile will also offer a handset upgrade, incurring a GBP 0.99 surcharge, taking the total price per month to GBP 8.49 (USD 13.85) in the case of the GBP 7.50 tariff. Handsets available with the 99p extra charge includes the LG Cookie, Nokia 6303, Samsung S3500 and the Sony Ericsson W302. If a handset is taken then customers will be tied-in to a 24 month contract.

Recently appointed Managing Director of Talkmobile, Paul Layte, commented on the new SIM-only tariffs saying: "SIM-only represents a kind of holding pattern for customers, looking for good value in the interim, between handset upgrades. But the SIM-only market cannot exist indefinitely. In these times, it is a great way for customers to save money in the shorter term. With these 99p upgrades, we are offering customers a way to get a great new handset at a good price, with a quality service that affords the kinds of extras usually available at a higher price point."

Noverca Italia offers low-cost international calls – Italy

Italian MVNO Noverca Italia, which uses Telecom Italia for its network infrastructure requirements, has released details of its new low-cost international calling incentive dubbed ‘Estero Low Cost’.

‘Estero Low Cost’ will enable customers to make a saving of an estimated 90 percent compared to standard mobile phone tariffs, according to Noverca Italia. The MVNO cites calls to the United States charged at EUR 0.19 (USD 0.27) a minute, which Noverca Italia maintains will deliver savings of up to 65 percent.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

MasMovil offers ‘trip to space’ – Spain

According to local media, Spanish MVNO MasMovil has introduced an innovative scheme called SIM Intergalactica, whereby users acquiring prepay SIM card will be offered a trip to space. The space trip will be organised by Virgin Galactic.

The scheme will be applicable on the purchase of SIM card worth EUR 160,000 (USD 226,771).

Noverca launches ‘Estero Low Cost’ plan – Italy

Italian MVNO Noverca has launched a new service called ‘Estero Low Cost’, which will be aimed at customers who make a lot of international calls. According to the company, the new service will enable customers to save up to 90% on international calls made from their mobile phones.

Under the new plan, a phone call to US fixed or mobile phones and to fixed line phones in Argentina will cost EUR 0.19 (USD 0.27) per minute. Therefore, according to the company, customers will save 65% and 94%, respectively, as against a normal call.

The service is an addition to the Extended SIM launch as noted last week.

Kroger users to gain free wireless minutes – USA

Kroger, a leading food chain, is planning to collaborate with i-wireless to provide a promotional offer to KrogerPlus customers. The national promotion will enable KrogerPlus grocery card users to receive free airtime minutes on i-wireless phones sold at Kroger stores.

Under the scheme, customers will receive 20 free minutes for every USD 100 they spend a month using the grocery card. However, the scheme will come with an upper limit of USD 1,500 in a month. Customers who hold a branded MasterCard with company will benefit more by receiving 30 minutes of airtime for every USD 100 spent, instead of 20 minutes. The scheme is available at Kroger's stores across 31 states.

To add confusion there are two “I Wireless” services operational in the USA. The first is i wireless (http://www.iwireless.com) which is a T-Mobile affiliate. The second, being the one this story refers to is i-wireless (https://www.iwirelesshome.com), note the hyphen. The i-wireless services operates over Sprint’s network on a nationwide basis retailing in 2,200 retail locations within the Kroger family of stores across 31 states. Kroger is a minor shareholder in i-wireless.

Paul McAleese, Chief Executive Office for i-wireless stated: "This is certainly a value story in the midst of this economic downturn." Paul started the company 4 years ago after leaving Cincinnati Bell as the Chief Marketing Officer.

Jitterbug adds new handset to its kitty – USA

Jitterbug, a senior-focused MVNO of GreatCall, has added a new mobile phone to its portfolio, namely the ‘Samsung Jitterbug J’. The handset has various new features, such as Bluetooth support and the capability to send and receive text messages.

The handset costs USD 147 and also attracts a one-time set-up fee of USD 35. However, the one-time set-up fee will be waived for each additional user. There will be no contract fee, with the rate plans starting at USD 14.99 per month for 50 minutes of talk time.

Jitterbug aims to solicit business from those who have not plunged into 21st century technology and customer service. In an open letter hosted on the Jitterbug website, Arlene Harris, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors for GreatCall, states: “We set out to make everything simpler and friendlier - essentially going back to basics. Jitterbug service takes the familiar comforts of home service (like dial-tone to let you know you can make a call), adds a few of the really neat things cellular technology could do (like a rapid dialing from a contact list) and added the crème de la crème of personal service, operators who know your name and helpful information and can make calls for you, manage your phone service and more.”

Also founding the company was Dr. Martin Cooper, former director of Research and Development at Motorola, who is acclaimed as making the first cellular call and heading up the creation of the first mobile phone in 1973.

Monday, 1 June 2009

MVNOs to be given green light to launch – India

The Indian Telecommunications Commission (ITC) has announced that it has agreed to allow the launch of MVNOs throughout India.

The ITC has made it known that the Indian Government will issue a full set of rules and guidelines in due course, outlining specific details about how the MVNO market will be governed and regulated.

It is expected that the ITC will place restrictions on the way MVNOs will be allowed to operate, with an MVNO being forced to ally with one MNO partner in an area of operations, preventing them from partnering with another MNO for that area. However, MNOs will be allowed to sign contracts and offer network services to more than one MVNO.

The licences granted to MVNOs are expected to be given for a 20 year period.

Celcom signs MOU with XOX Com – Malaysia

Malaysian MNO Celcom has signed a memorandum of understanding with one of the MVNOs which operate on its network, XOX Com.

The agreement is reportedly to be for XOX Com to supply a bespoke service to the Chinese community residing in Malaysia. Chief Executive Officer of Celcom, Datuk Seri Shazalli Ramly admitted that the MVNO had garnered a smaller number of Chinese subscribers than it had been expecting. XOX Com maintains that the Chinese community is one of the population segments it has performed well in previously.

Although remaining tight-lipped about the memorandum, Ng Kok Heng did reveal that the deal will see XOX Com produce Chinese specific language services and content, with full details to follow in the next quarter.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

IIJ releases mobile security solution – Japan

Internet Initiative Japan (IIJ), a leading Japanese network solutions provider, has released the July 2009 version of IIJ Laptop Security Solution. The new mobile security solution has been developed by IIJ in partnership with Alcatel Lucent.

The solution includes a data communication card (with GPS and UTM (2) features) and a gateway server to remotely monitor and control the laptop’s security features. In case of the laptop loss or theft, immediate action can be taken to safeguard vital information on the computer.

IIJ has its MVNO service IIJ Mobile over NTT DoCoMo’s network in Japan.