Thursday, 27 August 2009

GreatCall moves Jitterbug to Verizon – USA

Reportedly trading at a profit, GreatCall is moving its mobile operation away from its various CDMA partners onto just Verizon’s network. The move will apparently mean that GreatCall will be able to provide its subscriber base with more minutes at a better rate than before, presumably due to bulk buy rates from working with one network compared to many.

Greatcall, Chief Executive Officer, David Inns commenting on the move said: “Our customers are still going to enjoy the great handsets that we worked with Samsung to create, the same great customer service we have come to be known for, hands-on live customer service.”

The service is aimed at the keep it simple market who have no requirement or want for technical handsets full of applications, m-content and software. The phones have big buttons, simple menus and come without contract and a 30 day money back guarantee. Jitterbug, GreatCall’s MVNO, really does target those who are looking just for the features of a fixed line service but with the mobility of a mobile phone.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

They will pay you EUR 100 to be a Tele2 customer – France

In a bid to gain market share Tele2 Mobile is offering a EUR 100 rebate to new customers to its network. To take advantage of the offer new customers will have to subscriber to one of the monthly voice packages on offer by 4th October 2009 by porting their existing number to Tele2.

SMS bundles can be added onto the voice option chosen with the SMS packages ranging from 25 SMS for EUR 2.50 to unlimited SMS for EUR 9.90. The cheapest voice plan is EUR 17 per month, which would mean just over 5 months of free calls, or 1 hour free per month for 5 months. Free handsets are also available with the plans.

Payments to the new customers will be by cheque, which will follow in the post within 5 months of porting to Tele2. In the UK the cheque in the post rebate scheme lead to a flood of complaints to the regulator as consumers were having to chase their money, albeit this was a campaign run by handset vendors rather than the operators.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

New MD at Autopage – South Africa

James Rutherfoord has been appointed as the new Managing Director of Altech Autopage Cellular. Rutherfoord takes over from Stephen Blewett who left the company to pursue other interests.

Rutherford originally joined Altech as Group Executive of Telecom in May of this year. His career has seen him work for MTN for 11 years where he became General Manager of Direct Business.

Commenting, Rutherford said: “I am delighted at the opportunity to take up such a key role in the Altech Group, leading South Africa’s largest independent mobile service provider in an increasingly converging telecoms market. Our focus will be to cement Autopage’s position as the service provider of choice.”

PlatinumTel’s unlimited tariff – USA

Pre-paid operator PlatinumTel has joined the growing ranks of operators in the USA offering unlimited plans. For USD 50 per month subscribers will receive unlimited voice call and SMS as well as 100MB of data allowance which is billed as 3G web usage which includes MMS. Cheaper top up options are unlimited calls and SMS for five days for USD 10 and 15 days for USD 30.

The cheapest handset available from the MVNO is the LG LX-160 and costs just under USD 25. Subscribers also have access to a qwerty handset from Motorola.

Omar Abhari, Senior Vice President of Operations for PlatinumTel commented: "Having access to a full-featured, pay-as-you-go wireless plan is critical to millions of people who don't want or can't afford annual wireless contracts that ask users to pay month-to-month. Thus, prepaid has become one of the fastest-growing segments of the wireless market, where most people who want a cell phone now have one. Our new Unlimited Plan provides even greater flexibility for our customers at a price that can't be beat."

PlatinumTel has been operational since 2001 and operates over Sprint’s nationwide network.

Telepin mobi retires – Poland

Just after its first birthday Mediatel has decided to pull the plug on its MVNO, which only launched back in July 2008. The MVNO, Telepin mobi, managed to win 4,000 subscribers onto its books which is evidently far too small a subscriber base

When published in February The MVNO Directory 2009 counted 12 MVNO operations in Poland with 6 further companies to watch as potential MVNO start ups. The new MNO Directory counts 4 MNOs active in the country hosting a total mobile subscriber base of 42 million as at Q408.

It seems that launching an MVNO in a market with such a high penetration level and so many competitors during a global recession was perhaps the cause of this MVNO’s failure to take off. But this was evident at the time of planning and launching the MVNO. The plan was to target the immigrant community living in Poland, but from outside of Poland this too seemed strange since the overall trend has been Polish people emigrating to find work elsewhere in the EU rather than foreigners immigrating into Poland.

The service will now go into a wind down phase where no new business will be taken on and the existing 4,000 customers will be processed until they become individual loss makers for the operator at which point they will be cut off.

FRiENDi Mobile celebrates Ramadan – Oman

Throughout the month of Ramadan, FRiENDi Mobile will offer 30 flights to new subscribers who take out a new starter pack during Ramadan. FRiENDi will hold daily prize draws and the winner of the day will receive a free flight to somewhere within the region.

Existing subscribers will not be entered into the prize draw but will benefit from a different promotion where they will receive bonus credit on their top ups.

Antti Arponen, Chief Executive Officer of FRiENDi Mobile commented on the offer saying: “Ramadan Mubarak to our friends across the Sultanate. This is FRiENDi Mobile's first ever Ramadan and, in the true spirit of giving, we wanted to give our current and future customers further reason to celebrate with this generous promotion”

FCC approves Sprint buyout of Virgin Mobile – USA

The Federal Communications Commission has given regulatory approval to Sprint Nextel in its buyout of Virgin Mobile USA. The approval means that there is little now stopping Sprint absorbing Virgin Mobile, with the latter now losing its MVNO status as it becomes a brand of Sprint. The deal also sees Sprint take over Helio, which had been bought out by Virgin Mobile. Helio is a data orientated mobile service which targets the value added services and mobile content market, a venture which failed as a stand alone MVNO as it failed to attract enough users.

Virgin Mobile will still retain its identity and separate management team to provide Sprint with this channel to the youth market. As a business division Virgin Mobile now retains 100% of the revenue it produces as it no longer has to purchase minutes of use off Sprint to act as an MVNO. This should see the loss making business become a positive contributor to Sprint Nextel’s accounts.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Smartphones on Tesco Mobile in Q409 – United Kingdom

According to Phones Review UK, smartphones will soon be within reach of those on a budget within the pre-pay market. Tesco Mobile will begin to retail Alcatel’s Tribe OT 800 and LG’s GW 300.