Saturday, 15 August 2009

HP launches MVNO – Japan

As picked up on last week, computer manufacturer HP has formally announced that it has launched its own data-focussed MVNO in Japan. Although details are scarce it is believed that HP is renting network access from the MNO Japan Communications (JCI). The new MVNO will offer services on a pre-paid basis, rather than offering netbook deals linked to long-term contracts. It is expected to offer its netbooks from around USD 50 to USD 100.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Zer01 Mobile ends relationship with distributor – USA

Ersatz MVNO Zer01 Mobile has reportedly severed its agreement with its distribution partner Buzzirk Mobile.

This latest contentious news comes hot on the heels of a spate of recent bad press for Zer01 Mobile, which included an investigation by the IDG News Service, which questioned its business practices and called into question facts purported by Zer01 Mobile in its press releases.

Zer01 Mobile claimed its service would be up and running by 1st of July, however the launch passed by without any details being released.

Tune Talk poised for launch – Malaysia

Malaysian MVNO Tune Talk is set to launch on the 26th of August using the Celcom Malaysia network, after a delay of over a year.

Jason Lo, Chief Executive of Tune Talk, announced the launch by saying: “We are offering voice, SMS and data services on a 2.5G platform. A user just needs to buy a SIM card for MYR 5 (USD 1.41) and insert it into his mobile phone, choose the number he wants and he is connected to our network. We are going to offer very low flat rates for our Tune Talk service and we offer nationwide coverage from day one.”

Lo went on to explain Tune Talk’s plan to offer incentives to its customers by establishing strategic partnerships with companies in other industries. Tune Talk has agreed a deal with Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia to distribute 10 e-vouchers, worth MYR 200 (USD 56.4) each, to its heaviest users, which can be redeemed with the airline for plane tickets. Tune Talk has also partnered with Etiqa Insurance to offer its customers personal accident cover.

Lo explained its incentive structure: “I have been a user of a particular mobile company but I have not got bonus in airtime or even a free phone even though I believe I should. It really depends on where you put your customer and at Tune Talk we are putting them first.”

Tune Talk has high expectations, with the MVNO expecting to attract at least 1,000,000 customers in its first 12 months of operation, a feat it hopes to accomplish by establishing a 10,000 strong dealer network throughout Malaysia.

M2 cuts People Telecom jobs – Australia

Chief Executive Officer of telecommunications company and MVNO M2, Vaughan Bowen, has revealed that job cuts have been made to People Telecom, the company it acquired in April 2009.

Approximately 15 to 20 percent of People Telecom’s staff were been made redundant, resulting in a cost reduction of about 25% according to Bowen.

Commenting on the redundancies Bowen was quoted as saying: "There were some redundancies where there were roles that overlapped with our business. Something in the order of 15 to 20 per cent of the People Telecom team was made redundant.”

South Korea clarifies MVNO policy – South Korea

The South Korean telecommunications regulator, the Korean Communications Commission (KCC), has produced a wide-ranging policy designed to try and lower the cost of mobile phone charges.

KCC will require mobile phone operations to introduce three key changes designed to lower prices paid by consumers, including the cessation of subsidy based phone charges, a larger pre-paid credit distribution network and the adoption of an MVNO friendly strategy.

Although noting that the introduction of MVNOs will ultimately create a more competitive market which will, KCC hopes, drive down prices for the consumer, although there is scepticism within the industry about its vaunted aims and goals.

A source at South Korean telecommunications company KT was reported as saying: "When we talk about an MVNO policy, the chances for its success is low in South Korea. The telecommunication market here is fully saturated.

"Other measures will not be taken as operators fear they would result in falling profits."

The measures KCC have suggested come after a biennial report conducted and compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) showed that the average South Korean mobile phone user pays more for their mobile phone services when compared to other OEDC member nations.

Talkmobile alters pay as you go plans – United Kingdom

British MVNO Talkmobile, which is owned by mobile retailer The Carphone Warehouse, has announced that it has altered its pay as you go line-up.

Talkmobile will discontinue its pre-existing World and Prepay plans and introduce a single plan called simply, Pay as You Go.

Talkmobile customers on the new Pay as You Go tariff will be charged GBP 0.20 (USD 0.33) a minute to call landlines and mobiles and GBP 0.10 (USD 0.16) per text message. Talkmobile has also imposed a minimum call charge of GBP 0.20 (USD 0.33). Mobile data will be charged at GBP 0.30 (USD 0.49) a day, up to a maximum of 25 MB, with every further megabyte of data costing GBP 1 (USD 1.64).

Pay as You Go will also offer two add-ons, Textmania and Globetalker. Textmania gives customers unlimited texts for 7 days when they top-up with GBP 5 (USD 8.19), 14 days of unlimited texts for GBP 10 (USD 16.37), 21 days unlimited texts for GBP 15 (USD 24.56) and 30 days unlimited texts for GBP 20 (USD 32.75).

Globetalker will give customers 100 free international minutes for GBP 10 (USD 16.37), 200 minutes for GBP 15 (USD 24.56), 300 minutes for GBP 20 (USD 32.75), 400 minutes for GBP 40 (USD 65.47) and 500 minutes for GBP 50 (81.86).

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

NRJ Mobile unveils new Mini plan – France

French MVNO NRJ Mobile, which uses the Orange France network, will add a new low cost, low usage plan called the Mini to its offering.

C le Mobile Mini will join C le Mobile Premier and Classique as subscription options currently available on NRJ Mobile, a joint venture between NRJ Group and Credit Mutuel-CIC. C le Mobile Mini will seek to attract light and infrequent mobile users by charging customers EUR 10 (USD 8.24) a month for 15 minutes and 10 text messages and EUR 15 (USD 12.36) for 15 minutes and 10 text messages. Both variants will be subject to a 24 month contract, or they can be shortened to a 12 month contract period by adding EUR 4 (USD 3.30) to the 24 month price.

Calls made outside of the standard allowance will be charged at EUR 0.35 (USD 0.29) a minute and EUR 0.10 (USD 0.08) per text message.

NRJ Mobile customers over the age of 60 will be able to get assistance with using their mobile at participating Credit Mutuel bank branches.

Virgin Mobile USA releases Q2 financial data – USA

Virgin Mobile USA, which is in the process of being acquired by Sprint, has published its Q2 financial figures. Although the sale is being challenged by some shareholders.

The Q209 figures have shown that although the MVNO’s sales have remained almost the same as in Q208 its profits rocketed from USD 5,500,000 to USD 21,800,000 over the same period, due in part to the increase in customers signing up to monthly contracts which produce 15 times more revenue than pre-pay customers, according to Virgin Mobile USA Chief Executive Officer Dan Schulman.

The MVNO, which introduced a USD 50 unlimited plan recently, accounted for 21% of all new subscriptions in May and June, lowering the average revenue per user (ARPU) figure to USD 18.98.

FRiENDi Mobile launch promotion coming to a close – Oman

Omani MVNO FRiENDi Mobile has announced that it will cease offering its special launch starter pack on the 20th August 2009.

FRiENDi Mobile Chief Executive Officer Antti Arponen declared: “We have had such a fantastic response to this promotion ... so we thought it would be fair to let those who haven't quite got around to signing up know that there is only a few days left.”

Current pricing for the launch starter park stands at a flat-rate of OMR 0.039 (USD 0.10) a minute to other FRiENDi Mobile customers, calls to the United Kingdom cost OMR 0.179 (USD 0.46) per minute and calls to the majority of Indian regions are charged at OMR 0.159 (USD 0.41) a minute.

X-Mobility and 3 aim for 20 MVNOS by 2010 – United Kingdom

X-Mobility and 3 UK have revealed their future intentions by claiming that they will have 20 MVNOs up and running on the network by the end of 2009. X-Mobility and 3 claim that they have 10 committed MVNOs with 10 more expected by the end of the year.

They are known to have an agreement with student focussed MVNO Uni Tel and handset distribution and fulfilment firm 20:20 Mobile.

X-Mobility Chief Executive Officer Wayne Myers commented: “We are 18 months ahead of schedule. We have ordered more than 170,000 SIMs with 3 and taken delivery of approximately 85,000 already.

"Businesses have wanted to set up MVNOs, but MNOs have wanted too much commitment and operational development. It takes almost a year to set up with an MNO; six weeks with us."

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

HP partners with JCI – Japan

HP has partnered with Japan Communications (JCI) to rent wireless data spectrum, JCI in turn leases its spectrum from NTT DoCoMo.

The move will see HP take on the existing mobile broadband market in Japan. HP will now be offering laptops with pay as you go SIM cards which will use JCI’s network to provide the wireless broadband service. The laptops will come with 100 minutes of free airtime and crucially are not connected to a contract.

This development was made possible by a previous regulatory decision which forced the country’s 3 MNOs to lease spare spectrum to new entrants. JCI, based in Tokyo, signed up to NTT DoCoMo’s network and has potentially opened up the market to a flood of other tech manufacturers piloting similar offers.

Comcast COO predicts 40 percent WiMAX margin – USA

Stephen Burke, Comcast’s, Chief Operating Officer, has predicted that the operation will see a 40 percent margin by the end of the year from its WiMax offering. Burke is quoted as saying: "The product at the end of the year resets to $69.95 … And the combination product of the two has a very healthy margin. We were just talking about 40 percent margins. The margin is in excess of 40 percent, the combination once it resets to $69.95."

The service is a data only operation run over the Clearwire network. It can be accessed in Atlanta and Portland and by Q409 in Chicago, Philadelphia and Seattle.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Page Plus Cellular to offer unlimited for USD 39.95 – USA

Pre-pay MVNO Page Plus Cellular is to join those offering unlimited plans, shortly following on from last week’s criticism of Zer01’s reportedly impossible unlimited offering.

The MVNO will offer a pre-pay unlimited text, voice and a limited 20MB of data for USD 39.95 per month. Previous failed attempts at this all in market have fallen due to subscribers not paying up for services used, amongst other matters. The pre-pay nature will resolve this factor but the offering may be easily missed in what is becoming a standard package to market.

The news follows a recent announcement by Page Plus that they would be launching their own mobile application store, presumably to keep pace with the big players who are making best the iPhone, Blackberry and other smart devices.

Videotron ties in with Syniverse – Canada

Soon to be MNO Videotron, currently acting as an MVNO, has signed up with Syniverse for new mobile features for its upcoming 3G service in the form of enhanced mobile messaging, roaming and anti-fraud services.

Alfred de Cárdenas, Executive Vice President and General Manager, North America, Syniverse, said: “Syniverse’s diverse portfolio of mobile service offerings is specifically designed to help operators like Videotron grow their core business and expand in new directions. Syniverse’s flexibility and operator focus permits mobile operators to quickly react to market changes and demands, enabling the delivery of everything from voice calls to sophisticated data and video services wherever and whenever subscribers need them.”

Videotron has also posted upbeat results in the run up to its MNO launch. The company reports that the number of activated business and residential lines on Videotron’s wireless telephone service increased by 5,468 during the quarter, outpacing the growth recorded in the same quarter of 2008 and bringing total activated lines to 73,483.

Robert Dépatie, President and Chief Executive Officer of Videotron is quoted saying: “We have now recorded growth for all our products for 16 consecutive quarters… Although customer satisfaction with Videotron’s products and services is holding high at 96%, we plan to further enhance our customer service.”