Saturday, 19 September 2009

TuneTalk could overtake new MNO – Malaysia

NTT DoCoMo has pulled out of Malaysia 4th MNO, U Mobile, which only launched full commercial services back in April 2008. The Malaysian Star has analysed the market and sees MVNO TuneTalk as having a better business model and strategy than U Mobile. The article takes note of TuneTalk’s aggressive marketing campaign where the company has linked up with multiple budget industries for contra deals which place its offerings in front of a large cross section of mobile users.

The article rekindles the concept of MVNO launches being capable of being a success. Assuming a thorough marketing communications strategy has been planned out a new MVNO launch has the same potential as that of an MNO, just with different revenues and costs associated with the two forms of network.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Just Mobile’s tariff reduced – Australia

Just Mobile has launched ‘The Just 15 Prepaid Plan’. The plan provides calls at 15 cents per 30 second period with calls being billed per second with text messages also being charged at 15 cents per text.

ComTel’s (parent company to Just Mobile) Chief Operating Officer, Paul McFadden, commented: "We believe Just 15 is a timely offering for consumers fed up with having to commit to highly engineered cap plans for one or two years when all they want is cheap call and text capabilities as and when they need.”

The Just Mobile service operates over the Vodafone Australia network and is entirely owned by ComTel Corporation, which is fully Australian owned. ComTel was previously known as CommodiTel.

Marc Simoncini’s looking to start new French MVNO in 2010 – France

Le Journal has reported that a new MVNO is coming to France called COFITEL. The service is being founded by Marc Simoncini and C├ędric Curtil. Simoncini brings online marketing expertise and Curtil brings a career from SFR, a French MNO.

The service is expected to be a budget MVNO with an intense marketing campaign at launch. Further details are not yet available.

The French MVNO market accounts for around 5% of the mobile market and already has budget players.

More legal challenges for Sprint’s Virgin Mobile buy out – USA

iPCS Wireless, Horizon Personal Communications and Bright Personal Communications Services have collectively filed a complaint at the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, against Sprint’s intended buy out of Virgin Mobile.

The collective argue that they have a contractual agreement with Sprint which bars the latter from directly competing against them within their territories. The three companies act as Sprint resellers. Individually each network owns a portion of the network which is classed as the Sprint network. The arrangement is similar to a domestic roaming agreement; the smaller networks are able to provide access to a nationwide network (Sprint) and in return the nationwide network need not build out base stations where the small networks operate, but can still provide improved coverage for its direct subscribers.

The difference with the Virgin Mobile network is that Virgin being an MVNO had no network but still resold services anywhere across the US. With the continuation of the Virgin service but owned by Sprint, it would indeed see a Sprint owned operation effectively break these non-competitive agreements.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Lower interconnect rates would assist MVNOs – South Africa

Virgin Mobile South Africa, which still refuses to provide statistical data about the performance of their African MVNO, has commented positively regarding the Portfolio Committee on Communications move to lower interconnect rates between operators within the country. It is expected that the committee will force a reduction in interconnection rates from 1st November 2009 to 60 cents per minute for peak rate calls. Further annual reduction will also be applied of 15 cents per minute until 2012, by which point the rate will have fallen to 15 cents per minute.

While the move will hit the profits of the biggest operators the most, Virgin Mobile, which is believed to have a minority 4th place market share, positively commented on the move. Virgin Mobile’s Chief Executive Officer, Steve Bailey, reportedly noted: “I am very pleased about [the] Government’s initiative to lower interconnect rates”. He went on to say that the high rates have been a market barrier to full competition and for new entrants to the telecoms market in South Africa and that the rates had a negative effect on Virgin’s own market entry.

Cell C’s Executive Head of Regulatory Affairs, Nadia Bulbulia, Virgin Mobile’s host network, also cheered the move noting that MTN and Vodacom had increased the interconnect rate by 500% just prior to Cell C’s launch.

Disney mobile content heading to Virgin Mobile users – United Kingdom

The Walt Disney Internet Group has been trying to make money out of mobile for a while. Most notably their biggest failures to date have been their MVNO ventures in the USA with Disney Mobile and separately ESPN Mobile. The former was to target tweens and children essentially based upon the power of Mickey Mouse and other characters’ brand. The latter was an attempt at basing a network around sports fans with the offer of video content and similar other features based around their need for on demand baseball, basketball, football, etc. Both services failed to attract sustainable subscriber levels and ultimately had a big impact on the decision to cancel a proposed UK Disney MVNO. Over in Japan however the love of cute small things has seen the Disney Mobile MVNO become a big profitable success with young female adults.

Disney has since pursued mobile ventures from a mobile content point of view and has now signed up with Virgin Media in what has been called a ‘three screens deal’. The venture simply means that Virgin Media customers will have on demand access to Disney media via TV, Internet and on the move via their mobiles. Virgin also provides a mobile broadband service therefore the Disney content will also be available via laptops on the go.

Boel Ferguson, Vice President and General Manager, Disney Channels UK and Ireland commented: “Our vision is to put choice in the hands of our viewers and allow them to access our content via as many potential platforms as possible - this new deal with Virgin Media helps make our vision a reality.”

Katharine Burns, Executive Director of Content Acquisition at Virgin Media said: “Virgin Media has been a pioneer in developing new TV services and our three screens deal with Disney is a perfect example of how driving innovation can benefit the consumer and enhance their viewing experience.”

Virgin Media also announced that Eamonn O'Hare has become their new Chief Finance Officer; he joins the company from Tesco.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Rumours lead to false hope of a BT and o2 MVNO – United Kingdom

Since selling its mobile network to o2, BT has made multiple attempts to succeed as an MVNO. The logic is that they have a substantial presence in the UK fixed line market, being the original monopoly holder, and that this should translate into fixed-mobile and triple-play business (multiple services from the one supplier).The reality is that consumer take up has been poor in response to each attempt.

Non-competitive pricing, a history of poor customer service, being too late for the gold rush and a lack of interest in fixed-mobile have all seen BT’s MVNO ventures fail (BT Fusion, BT Mobile).

Over the past week there has been industry speculation that BT would announce today their re-entry into the mobile market as an o2 MVNO. Fresh from BT’s newsroom is something else, non-MVNO. BT are going to work with o2 to allow the latter to sell fixed line services to enterprise markets using BT’s fixed line network. The statement made no mention of a mobile tie up, no MVNO.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Lycamobile partners O2 UK for roaming – United Kingdom

Lycamobile has signed with O2 to launch a new pre-pay SIM card offer, the new offering is expected Q409. The MVNO already partners with Orange for its existing operation and the new deal with O2 is not meant to affect this. The move will place Lycamobile into a position of having multiple network partners and may provide them with a stronger contractual position when negotiating terms with Orange and O2. At this stage there is no information as to which deal Lycamobile earns the better rate from and whether the company will equally push each brand.

Milind Kangle, Chief Executive Officer, Lycamobile commented: “We are delighted to announce the signing of this deal with O2. They have demonstrated a dedicated approach to this partnership and our deal will accelerate the success that the Lycamobile brand has already had in the UK. Thanks to the technical architecture Lycamobile has developed, we will be providing an enhanced low-cost, high-quality mobile service to our UK customers.”

Ben Dowd, O2 Business Sales Director, said: “This deal with Lycamobile offers us an exciting opportunity to work in a key growth market with the UK’s leading International MVNO partner.”

Yoigo and fixed line partners – Spain

Local news service Expansion, has reported that Yoigo is in communication with fixed line operators within the north of the country in regard to MVNO activity across the Yoigo network.

R, Telecable and Euskaltel are cited as being three of the companies Yoigo approached. The offering is thought to contain proposals of improved mobile network coverage within the fixed operators’ territories to improve network access and make customer acquisition easier. Yoigo are also offering an alternative partnership contract of a fixed fee instead of minutes of use.

This MVNO venture moves far beyond the discount service proposition. Yoigo is essentially looking to deploy new network infrastructure in locations where it will receive the most custom by doing so in a way that increases the chances of a successful take up, by accessing someone else’s related paying customer base.

iPod Nano offered by Simplicime – France

New subscribers signing up to Simplicime’s four hour calling plan will receive an eight GB iPod Nano. The contracts run for two years and are priced at EUR 29.90 per month. Subscribers to the service chose from either four hours of calling time per month or 360 text messages. Subscribers will also receive a Nokia 1209 as part of the contract. There is a one off cost of EUR 1 for the subscription.

Credit card companies want to be MVNOs – South Korea

The Korea Times has reported that credit card companies within South Korea are actively pursuing entry into the telecommunications market as MVNOs. Notably it pinpoints BC Card as being the most active in pursuing a mobile venture and even states the company has put aside USD 160 million for an MVNO.

Commenting on why credit card companies would be interested, an official from The Korea Communications Commission commented: "MVNOs won't have a prayer of prying away subscribers from existing wireless carriers in the traditional way. However, there are a lot of possibilities, such as developing new mobile financial services on new handsets and also introducing data services that take advantage of their strengths in their traditional business sectors."

This is the most likely explanation as to why credit card companies would want to venture into mobile and why a network would partner with one. Mobile payments (from sending money electronically to using a phone to purchase goods) as well as wireless chip and pin devices have brought finance houses and mobile phone companies together. Both rely upon each other for the services to work and both want to maximise their profit margins. As ever, it only takes one operator to allow an MVNO onto its network for the others to have no choice but to follow and allow MVNOs.

Zon to use Sigma for OSS – Portugal

In an extension to the existing ‘Service Management Portfolio’ contract for triple play services between Zon Multimedia and Sigma Systems, the two companies have announced that Sigma will provide OSS services for Zon’s mobile operation.

Tim Spencer, President and Chief Operating Officer of Sigma Systems, commented: "With help from Sigma Systems and our advanced fulfillment solutions, ZON has continuously added and delivered services that meet its customers' needs, regardless of their access technology or device. ZON is seeing rapid growth and increasing loyalty from its customers, who appreciate the value of the multi-service bundle options available. With the addition of mobile, ZON now offers anywhere, anytime and any device services."

The companies also announced an extension of the existing contract to 2013.

Monday, 14 September 2009

2ergo appoints new MVNO head – Global

2ergo has appointed Mark Gilburt as Head of MNO/MVNOs and Public Sector.

Mark Gilburt said: “2ergo is a pioneering company and I am looking forward to establishing and driving further innovation across the MNO/MVNO sector and also the public sector, an area that can capitalise on advancements in mobile technology to drive efficiencies, gain a better return on investment and manage relationships with the communities each serves.”

The company is involved in mobile enabling technologies.

Solomon to provide Twitter access for nothing – Germany

In response to the growing mobile Internet appetite for access to social network applications, Solomon has provided free TweetPush access. The service is in beta mode but allows users to access TweetPush via ‘Flash SMS’. Users can also text their status update via SMS for 7 cents if they do not want to ‘Push’.

Budget Mobile cuts tariff – France

In an effort to stay in track with discount calling providers, Budget Mobile has reduced the cost of calling from its network.

Calls to fixed lines fall from EUR 0.29 per minute to EUR 0.22 per minute. Calls to mobile networks are now EUR 0.34 per minute and calls within the Budget Mobile network remain the same at EUR 0.29.

These prices are for domestic calls and a long list of international destinations.