Saturday, 4 July 2009

x-Mobility launches MVNA service – UK

x-Mobility, a full-service MVNO licence holder on the 3 UK network, has launched its Mobile Virtual Network Aggregator (MVNA) service, which will provide a white-labelled MVNO service for companies planning to enter the mobile space. X-Mobility’s MVNA service will allow new MVNOs a quick and cost-effective solution compared with connecting directly with an operator. The services offered under the solution include OSS, BSS, customer care and number portability services.

Commenting on the development, David Bickett, Business Development Director at 3, said: “x-Mobility has created a very compelling service which suits the excellent network that we have built in the UK. We believe that the smaller, niche MVNO players will be able to profit from the combination of 3 UK’s network and x-Mobility’s MVNA service.”

Friday, 3 July 2009

Vistream signs ZTE for core network infrastructure – Germany

The German MVNO Vistream has signed a contract with Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturer ZTE to upgrade its GSM and UMTS network that enables the former to provide high-speed mobile access and applications. The new network is likely to offer Vistream a capacity for 500,000 subscribers.

ZTE will provide a series of advanced solutions, including an all-IP platform, ATCA (Advanced Telecommunications Computing Architecture) hardware infrastructure and advanced NGHLR (Next Generation Home Location Register) systems. The package also includes a geographic database disaster recovery feature that assists in maximising the network’s reliability and lowering the operator’s TCO (total cost of ownership).

According to Vistream, the upgrade was a part of enlarging its business across various European markets, “working in deep cooperation with various third party content providers.”

Orange linked with Blyk partnership – UK

British advertising based MVNO Blyk Mobile, which gives users credit in return for receiving targeted advertisements, is reportedly close to signing a licensing deal with MNO Orange, the network Blyk uses in the United Kingdom. Blyk has stopped taking on new subscribers as it begins its evolution from MVNO to licensing its technology and agreeing partnerships with operators.

Although details about any agreement have yet to be released it is expected that if the deal goes ahead that Orange would mimic what Blyk offers its customers i.e. credit in return for viewing selected advertisements.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Virgin Mobile rumoured to want 4th 3G licence – France

Speculatione has once again linked French MVNO Virgin Mobile with telecommunications company Numericable over a joint bid for the 4th French 3G spectrum licence. Virgin Mobile insists that it is still in talks with Numericable and no decision has been made.

Addressing a telecommunications conference Virgin Mobile Secretary General Philippe Maugest was reported as saying: "We are looking at the dossier. We are looking at it very closely ... We are looking at it in a very favourable manner."

He added that he thought the price was ‘relevant and fair’ but remained guarded about whether a deal had been done with Numericable by announcing that Virgin Mobile France has been ‘holding takes with quite a few people in France and abroad’.

French telecommunications regulator ARCEP is expected to issue the recently revalued licence by January 2010 with at least two candidates being shortlisted and ultimately chosen from. The price is up from EUR 206,000,000 (USD 286,000,000) to a suggested EUR 240,000,000 (USD 334,000,000).

Bell completes purchase of Virgin Mobile – Canada

Bell Mobility has announced that it has completed the CAD 142,000,000 (USD 122,000,000) purchase of the remaining 50% share of MVNO Virgin Mobile Canada. Bell Mobility already owned the other share of Virgin Mobile Canada, with the latest transaction making it the sole owner. The acquisition also includes a long-term licensing agreement for the use of the Virgin Mobile brand and the ability to gain access to Bell’s 3G network when it is completed.

Bell went on to say that it will install Robert Blumenthal as President and Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Mobile Canada, replacing the outgoing incumbent Andrew Black, and that its range of handsets will be sold in The Source retail stores from January 2010.

President and Chief Executive Officer of Bell, George Cope said: "The Virgin Mobile Canada team has built a unique wireless brand with special appeal to young Canadians and a reputation for outstanding service right across the country. This acquisition aligns perfectly with Bell's strategic imperative to Accelerate Wireless, and we look forward to assisting Virgin Mobile Canada in maximizing the network, product, global roaming and distribution advantages that come with being part of the broader Bell organization."

New Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Mobile Canada, Robert Blumenthal added: "I'm thrilled to be joining the Virgin Mobile Canada team as we build on our rewarding relationship with Bell Mobility and begin a new one with The Source. We think Virgin Mobile's youth-oriented brand fits very well with The Source's focus on young and tech-savvy consumers. On behalf of the entire Virgin Mobile Canada team, I would also like to thank Andrew Black for leading our organization to its position as the wireless brand of choice for youth in Canada. We look forward to building on that success as we enter a new era of wireless competition and opportunity."

Virgin Mobile launches mobile data plan – India

Virgin Mobile India has announced its plan to enter the mobile data segment of the market with vLink. vLink consists of a USB modem with 1 GB integral storage costing INR 2,100 (USD 43.6).

Two plans will be available with the vLink, one costing INR 801 (USD 16.7) for unlimited data usage and the second costing INR 349 (USD 7.24) per month. The second plan will be charged at INR 0.25 (USD 0.005) a minute peak time between 8 am and 10 pm and INR 0.13 (USD 0.003) a minute off-peak between 10 pm and 8 am.

Virgin Mobile India Chief Executive Officer M A Madhusudan said: "vLink will offer instant connectivity on the move to the style conscious youth, be it students, professionals, SMBs or SOHOs ... It is a carry-along device that will allow users to access internet anywhere as well as store their music, photos, videos etc.”

TracFone unveils flat-rate calling plan – USA

Low-cost pre-paid MVNO TracFone Wireless has introduced a new flat-rate calling plan, costing USD 45 a month.

The plan, dubbed StraightTalk, will operate on a pre-pay basis and it will give subscribers unlimited calls, texts and 30MB of mobile data for USD 45 a month. A cheaper plan in the same vein as the USD 45 a month tariff exists, giving customers 1,000 minutes, 1,000 texts and 30 MB of mobile data for USD 30 a month.

The StraightTalk plan, which uses the Verizon Wireless network, will be offered at selected Wal-Mart retail stores with three handsets available: the Motorola RAZR V3, Motorola W385 and the LG 200CM.

ASDA targets major online retailers – UK

ASDA Mobile, the MVNO owned by the supermarket chain ASDA, is attempting to take on general online shops such as Amazon and Play with the launch of its new online store which features a far more extensive range of handsets.

The store’s inventory has jumped from 6 SIM-free handsets up to a comparatively massive 72, ranging from the cut-price GBP 22 (USD 36) Motorola W156 through to the mid-range Nokia 5800 for GBP 240 (USD 389) and the high-end Nokia 8800 Carbon Arte which comes in at GBP 825 (USD 1,339). All handsets will be sold SIM-free.

The MVNO, which launched in May 2007 and uses the Vodafone UK network, will also offer its SIM cards for sale on the online store. The SIM cards will cost GBP 0.47 (USD 0.76) and will give customers calls for GBP 0.08 (USD 0.13) and text messages for GBP 0.04 (USD 0.06). Web usage will be charged at GBP 0.20 (USD 0.32) per megabyte.

Commenting on the new online store Craig Thirkell, Buying Manager for ASDA Mobile, said: “A lot of customers said there were never enough SIM-free handsets on sale. The launch of this new website solves that. We’ll be competing against the likes of Amazon, and eXpansys so the competition is fierce. However our pricing is very competitive and some of the handsets we’re selling are up to £40 cheaper than our rivals, so it bodes well for how successful this website could be.”

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Kajeet wins parents award – USA

Kajeet, an MVNO which targets tweens and pre-teens, has won the 2009 iParenting Media Award in the Safety category.

Kajeet, which uses Sprint’s network, allows parents to restrict several features on their child’s handset, including the ability to receive calls, picture messages and text messages.

Justifying its decision one of the iParenting Media judges said: "Kajeet does a great job of giving kids the feelings of self-confidence and respect that come with owning a cell phone ... It also helps parents feel safe and in control, because they can give their kids as much or as little freedom as they need."

Another judge added: "This product is a great way to give parents peace of mind knowing that they can access their children when necessary ... It also allows children to contact their parents in case of an emergency."

The recognition from iParenting Media comes on the back of previous honours for kajeet from the PTPA Media Inc. Seal of Approval for Excellence in Parenting Products and the National Parenting Publications Awards.

O2 Wireless partners with Wireless Airport – USA

International business travel and tourist focused MVNO O2 Wireless has announced that its SIM cards will be sold by mobile retailer Airport Wireless. The O2 Wireless Universal SIMCard will be offered in 42 Airport Wireless retail outlets, throughout 19 major airports in the United States.

Commenting on the partnership Pete Grubb, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Locus Telecommunications (owner of O2 Wireless), said: "We are extremely proud to be expanding our successful Universal SIMCard program with Airport Wireless. Airport Wireless has a notable history of providing top-quality wireless solutions to their travel-centric customer base."

Mike Goldschimdt, Executive Vice President at Airport Wireless, added: "Airport Wireless' partnership with O2 Wireless service further strengthens our commitment to providing top-notch wireless options to our customers. We pride ourselves on having uncompromised customer care and product offerings. And O2 Wireless is the perfect match for not only what we believe in as a company but what we believe is in the best interest for our clients."

EU approves Carphone and Tiscali UK merger – UK

The proposed acquisition of Tiscali UK by The Carphone Warehouse Group has been approved by The European Commission under EU Merger Regulation. Tiscali UK is a subsidiary of Tiscali SpA of Italy, while Carphone Warehouse is a UK-based mobile retailer having MVNO operations across Europe.

According to the Commission, the transaction will not have any significant impact on the effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA). The Commission’s analysis was particularly focused on the domestic sector of broadband services, where the merged entity will pose as a main competitor to BT.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Israel mulls over MVNO as fifth mobile operator – Israel

Israel’s legislative body, the Knesset, is currently debating the Economic Arrangements Bill which if passed would pave the way for the addition of an MVNO to the mobile landscape. The Economic Arrangements Bill, which is attached to the introduction of the national budget, contains a clause which calls for an MVNO to become the fifth mobile operator in Israel. Mobile operators have a short period to provide feedback, once this period of consultation is over the Bill will be voted on in its entirety in the middle of July.

If the Economic Arrangements Bill passes into law and the Israeli Ministry of Communications publish its requirements for virtual operators to enter the market then potential MVNOs could be applying for a licence and negotiating with operators over network access within a few months.

Israeli law gives MVNOs up to six months negotiating time with operators, if both sides remain at loggerheads after the six month limit then the government can step-in and impose an agreement.

Hot, O12 Smile, Xfone and Israel Post are all rumoured to be interested in taking advantage of the clause in the Bill and becoming an MVNO.

Comcast introduces data-only service – USA

Comcast has unveiled its first “High-Speed 2go” data-only service in Portland. The service will be made available to more locations such as Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia by the end of 2009. Comcast will piggyback on Clearwire’s mobile WiMAX platform and on Sprint-Nextel’s 3G data EV-DO network. The company will bundle the service for its residential and small-sized business customers with one or more of its existing products.

With this Comcast has become the first of Clearwire’s partners to launch an MVNO service on top of one of Clearwire’s own WiMAX markets.

NRJ Mobile offers TomTom with Samsung handset – France

French MVNO NRJ Mobile has introduced a new in-car satellite navigation device branded as TomTom with the Samsung U600 Platinum phone for EUR 1 (USD 1.41). The offer is exclusively for those customers who subscribe to two-year contracts for "Double Jeu" plans, available at EUR 21.90 (USD 30.80) per month for 1 hour of calls and unlimited SMS.

The Samsung U600 Platinum phone is a GPRS/EDGE slider phone with several features; such as a 3 megapixel camera, MP3 player, MIDP 2.0 Java, 60 MB internal memory and Bluetooth. The new in-car satellite navigation device will also have maps of France loaded in it.

Hits Telecom plans MVNO launch – France

Hits Telecom, a Kuwait-based international operator, is mulling plans to launch its MVNO operations in France. According to Sultan Bahabri, the Chairman of Hits Telecom, the company is planning to penetrate in to other large European markets using Vodafone’s network, aiming for 100,000 subscribers by the end of the year.

The operator is targeting foreign residents, tourists and students through inexpensive international call offerings and multilingual customer services.

Bahabri further added that the company is also eyeing other markets like Saudi Arabia, Brazil, India and China.

Yes Telecom to create new company – The Netherlands

According to Telecompaper, Dutch MVNO Yes Telecom has announced that the company will create a new entity from its Capestone unit on 1 July. According to Klaas Botterna and Frank Caris, Directors of Yes Telecom, the move is attributed to Capestone’s substantial growth in the mobile data traffic market.

Alexander van Weert will act as the Managing Director of the new company, of which he will be a part owner as well. Additionally, Capestone will shift its headquarters to a new location in Ooserhout, The Netherlands, with a new shareholder.

Yes Telecom introduces service for SMEs – Germany

According to Telecompaper, Dutch MVNO Yes Telecom has introduced its mobile services for SMEs in Germany. The company will focus on providing low cost plans and high services to these customers. Yes Telecom’s portfolio is based on the Yes Individual tariff, expandable with several tariff options.