Saturday, 11 July 2009

ARCEP confirms licence issue date – France

The President of the French telecommunications regulator ARCEP (Autorité de Régulation des Communications Électroniques et des Postes) has confirmed that the fourth spectrum licence currently up for grabs will be awarded by the end of July.

French MVNO Virgin Mobile and cable company Numericable are expected to table a joint bid for the licence.

Friday, 10 July 2009

UNE EPM announces soft-launch of its MVNO Service – Spain

Colombian telecommunications company UNE EMP has a soft-launched its MVNO Orbitel in Spain. Orbitel, which is a brand of UNE EMP which is not currently being used in Colombia, will use Vodafone Spain as its network partner. The MVNO will target the large number of Latin American immigrants living in Spain, a number thought to total over 2 million.

Juan Guillermo Velez Ospina, Vice President of International Business for UNE EPM is reported to have said that 94% of the Latin America community in Spain own a mobile phone but that only 6% use their handsets for calls home; a situation that Orbitel wishes to exploit by offering cheap calls back to their home countries.

UNE EPM will operate the preliminary Orbitel service until the end of August 2009 with the full launch being scheduled for September 2009.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

TracFone Wireless extends SafeLink Wireless programme – USA

US MVNO TracFone Wireless has expanded its government backed SafeLink Wireless programme to 600,000 eligible low-income households in the state of Alabama.

SafeLink Wireless gives eligible households a free handset, access to emergency services and 68 free minutes a month for one year. Customers can also augment their free minutes with top up cards (USD 3 for 15 minutes or USD 10 for 50 minutes) once their 68 free minute initial complement has been used up.

To be eligible for the programme a household must be in receipt of some type of governmental assistance, such as food stamps or federal supplementary security income for example.

According to Jose Fuentes, Director of Government Relations for TracFone Wireless, the introduction of the SafeLink Wireless service took months of planning, overcoming logistical issues and negotiations with state regulators to eventually come to fruition. Commenting on the service introduction Fuentes said: "We are offering these participants the opportunity to have the same access and privileges many individuals take for granted when it comes to using cell phones.”

In addition to the latest expansion in Alabama SafeLink Wireless has recently been rolled out by TracFone Wireless in parts of New York, Detroit and Michigan.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Ready Mobile introduces unlimited voice plan – USA

US MVNO Ready Mobile has announced its new unlimited calling plan. Titled ‘Unlimited’ it will give customers unlimited calling on a pre-pay basis.

Customers can pay USD 9.99 for 3 days unlimited calling with 40 text messages or USD 14.99 for 7 days worth of calls and 100 free text messages. The new plans will be available from existing Ready Mobile distributors, with Stripes and Town and Country stores being the first retail locations to receive them.

Announcing the new plan Fred Haumesser, Vice President of Sales for Ready Wireless, said: "Many of our customers really want to be able to buy unlimited services, but for many customers it's difficult to commit to an entire month at any given time. Our new plans allow our customers to opt in 3 or 7 days at a time. Importantly, our legacy 'Free Nights and Weekends' plans are still available as well, so our customers can choose the plan that's best for them."

Ben Hoffmeyer, Stripes Prepaid Services Category Manager, added: "Stripes is committed to offering our customers convenience and flexibility whenever and wherever possible. These shorter term plans deliver that flexibility within the prepaid phone category, and we're excited to bring them to market for our customers.”

Virgin Mobile shuts down Sugar Mama – USA

Virgin Mobile USA has begun sending text messages to users of its Sugar Mama service which reportedly outlines its closure.

Sugar Mama users were given free minutes in return for viewing advertisements, responding to text messages and completing surveys.

No information has been forthcoming from Virgin Mobile USA regarding the shutdown of Sugar Mama.

M6 Mobile announces tie-in with Caméra Café – France

French MVNO M6 Mobile, which uses the Orange France network, has announced the introduction of a new pre-paid card which ties-in with the popular mini-series Caméra Café (a show with 700 episodes to its name which centres around employees gathered around a coffee machine).

The pre-paid card will cost EUR 15 (USD 20.94) and will give customers advanced previews of new episodes, access to more than 100 episodes from the first season and it will give customers half price calling to other Orange France users during off-peak hours.

PosteMobile reaches SIM card milestone – Italy

The Italian MVNO PosteMobile, which uses the Vodafone Italia network, has reached a landmark 1,000,000 SIM cards sold since its launch in November 2007.

PosteMobile, which is owned by Poste Italiane Group, also reported that 80% of its SIM cards are still active and that 48% percent of its customers are between the ages of 25 and 45.

Simyo starts iPhone petition – Germany

German MVNO Simyo has initiated an online petition which apparently calls for T-Mobile Germany to stop SIM-locking the new iPhone 3GS

The petition (located at iphonesfree.de) has so far been signed by over 11,000 people.

Although Simyo claims that the iPhone would be better suited to their MVNO and that their petition is legitimate some local commentators have alleged that the petition is merely a public relations exercise.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Simpleo changes name to Simplicime – France

French MVNO Simpleo has announced that the company will change its name to Simplicime on 16 July. According to Jean-Michel Neyret, Chief Executive Officer of Debitel France, the company took the step due to the similarity of Simpleo with an existing brand. He added: “the shift to Simplicime expresses perfectly what makes our success in our current customers: the simplicity and value for money.”

Zer01 formally announces introduction of new service – USA

US-based MVNO Zer01 Mobile has announced that the company has formally launched its unlimited voice, data and web mobile wireless service. According to the company, the service will enable customers to make unlimited calls, surf the web, watch videos, play games, send text messages and download music for a very low monthly fee.

Zer01, by offering services as an MVNE, has formed its own grouping of MVNOs and strategic alliances, including a new partnership with Netmovies.com, an online entertainment network.

Solomo unveils promotional offers – Germany

German MVNO Solomo unveiled various promotions on the occasion of its second birthday. Solomo is offering a national messaging service for EUR 0.01 (USD 0.01) per SMS and has launched a promotional offer for new customers as well.

Redknee secures contract for InBill solution – Canada

Redknee, a leading provider of communication software products and solutions, has secured a contract from an unnamed Asia-Pacific Tier-1 operator for its InBill solution. The solution will help the operator to manage wholesale billing with its MVNO partners through Redknee’s service bureau operations. The operator has a large wholesale division and provides telecom services to other service providers globally.

Redknee’s InBill solution service bureau offering will provide tools and expertise to the operator to attain converged settlement, the ability to process event records from any source, enhanced reporting and an independent tool for revenue assurance.

Tesco Mobile Ireland reports losses – Ireland

Tesco Mobile Ireland has reported a loss of EUR 7.3 million (USD 10.18 million) for 2008 (as at 31 December 2008). Despite the losses, o2 and Tesco have decided to provide financial support to the company until at least until 30 June 2010 in order to meet its obligations.

According to John Paul O’Reilly and Geoff Byrne, Directors of Tesco Mobile Ireland, the company is expected to have adequate funding to run its operations for this period.

Monday, 6 July 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 11.580 million in March 2009 to 11.658 million in April 2009. The number of prepaid and 2.5G/3G users stood at 5.477 million and 3.744 million, respectively.

MVNO subscribers in the country increased from 774,932 in March 2009 to 782,232 in April 2009.

TelstraClear returns to Vodafone – Australia

Australian MVNO TelstraClear will switch networks from Telecom back to previous MNO partner Vodafone, it has been revealed. It is expected that the change will take place before Christmas 2009.

A spokesman for TelstraClear outlined the main reason for the announcement saying: "Telecom was unable to provide complete and timely access to its XT network forcing TelstraClear to look at other options.”

Chief Executive Officer of TelstraClear Allan Freeth commented on the move saying: “TelstraClear is now in a position to compete aggressively in the mobile broadband market.

“Our agreement [with Vodafone] ensures TelstraClear will have total control over our plans, handset range, customer base and international roaming is assured.”

TelstraClear originally split from Vodafone back in June 2007 after the MNO disagreed with TelstraClear’s decision to attempt to build its own network.

TelstraClear customers will need a 3G handset to access the Vodafone network, although the MVNO has said it will carry on supporting customers using its CDMA service for ‘the foreseeable future’.

FonYou to introduce online mobile phone service – Spain

Spanish MVNO FonYou is planning to launch an Internet-based mobile phone service on 9 July. The new service will allow customers to access their call and message records and online calendar features on their personal space at the FonYou website. In addition, the service will offer call filter capabilities and voicemail services enabling users to send personalised greeting messages.

Friendi Mobile signs deal with IDEA Cellular – Oman

Recently launched Omani MVNO Friendi Mobile has signed an agreement with Indian MNO IDEA Cellular. The agreement, called ‘Reach Out, acknowledges the large number of Indian expatriates living in Oman by giving customers of Friendi Mobile discounted calls to India and vice-versa with IDEA Cellular customers calling Oman.

The agreement will allow Friend Mobile users to call IDEA Cellular customers located in the Indian state of Kerala for OMR 0.139 (USD 0.36) a minute; an amount Friendi Mobile claims is the lowest Oman to India calling rate on offer. IDEA Cellular customers will be able to call Friendi Mobile customers for INR 9.19 (USD 0.19) a minute.

Commenting on the agreement His Excellency Anil Wadhwa, Indian Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman, said: “We have nearly 566,000 Indian expatriates based in Oman from many different backgrounds, ethnicities and salary brackets, and for some it isn't always affordable to phone home regularly. Thanks to Friendi mobile, they now have the opportunity to call their loved ones at reduced rates and keep in touch with home on a regular basis.”

Mikkel Vinter, Chief Executive Officer of the Friendi Group, added: “The 'Reach Out' programme is a major strategic initiative for our group, and the partnerships with leading mobile operators globally are allowing us to offer our customers in the SAMEA region even better international call rates and innovative new services. We are today launching the program with India as this in the biggest community of foreigners in Oman and the region in general, and we will be soon be launching with partners in other countries including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Philippines as well as selected countries in Europe. This program will truly improve the quality of life for the Friendi mobile customers, so we are looking forward to making the next announcements.”

Lebara deploys BTI 7000 series – UK

Lebara Group has deployed the BTI 7000 series for data centre connectivity supporting Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery requirements. The BTI solution enables Lebara to alternatively purchase services from a local service provider. Also, BTI solution provides a faster response to new bandwidth requirements and more direct control compared to working with a service provider.

Commenting on the development, Rajeet Nair, Operations Director at Lebara, said: “BTI delivered capacity, scalability, and a cost effective solution that complemented our decision to leverage dark fibre in lieu of lit services.Having direct control of a solution that will grow with Lebara’s subscriber base as we roll out new and innovative service offerings was essential, and BTI’s packet optical networking solution delivers.”

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Pepephone introduces 'Tarifa Movilonia’ – Spain

Spanish MVNO Pepephone has collaborated with the Movilonia web portal to offer a joint tariff plan, dubbed as 'Tarifa Movilonia by Pepephone'. The new plan is available with no call set-up fee or monthly fee. Under the plan, national voice calls will cost EUR 0.13 (USD 0.18) per minute or 0.2 cents (USD 0.003) per second to fixed and mobile numbers and EUR 0.09 (USD 0.13) per SMS.