Thursday, 12 November 2009

Telecom hots up wholesale market – New Zealand

The MVNO market in New Zealand is about to step up from its initial probing stage to a full blown MVNO market. Both of the country’s MNOs (Telecom NZ and Vodafone) have opened up their networks to MVNOs and Telecom are about to take it a step further by allowing its CDMA MVNO partner, and others, to soon access their new WCDMA network.

Telecom’s Wholesale General Manager of Marketing, Nick Clarke commented: “Making our WCDMA mobile network available at wholesale is very exciting. It will provide the first opportunity for New Zealand telecommunications retailers to source a full range of the most advanced wholesale solutions from one supplier.”

Current CDMA MVNO, Digital Island’s General Manager, Blair Stewart added, “Telecom’s new mobile network has been very well received and by all accounts is performing brilliantly. To have the opportunity to offer a mobile product of this calibre and capability to our customers nearly a year earlier than expected is excellent news.”

At this stage the quantity of MVNOs each MNO will partner is impossible to tell, but with both MNOs showing a green light for ventures this could result in a race to sign up any feasible and worthwhile offering presented to them (rejecting an MVNO offer could be pushing an asset to their competitor).

Page Plus Cellular lowers rates – USA

Starting 16th November 2009 Page Plus Cellular is lowering its tariff. For its highest volume selling recharge rate, of USD 10, this result in subscribers receiving 100 minutes of call time as opposed to 83 minutes (the per minute rate has dropped from USD 0.12 to 0.10).

Dean McDowell, Page Plus Cellular's Chief Financial Officer, commented: "Last month we introduced our Talk n Text 1,200 plan, which provides 1,200 voice minutes, 1,200 text or picture messages, and 50 megabytes of data for just USD 29.95 a month. Prior to that, in August, we came out with our enormously successful Unlimited Talk n Text plan for USD 39.95 a month. Those two monthly prepaid cell phone bundle plans offer tremendous savings for our customers. Now we're extending that value to our Standard Plan and lowering the per-minute charge for the majority of our customers."

Page Plus Cellular is a prepaid MVNO with nationwide coverage. The company started services as a pager business before the market moved away from these devices to mobile handsets.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

5 to launch before 2010 – Thailand

State owned MNO, TOT, is in the process of preparing a 3G network launch in Bangkok. In an effort to ramp up subscriber numbers to ensure a positive return on investment against the network build out cost, TOT has been looking to develop partner relationships. The Bangkok Post has identified the following five companies as being likely partners which will also go live in December: Loxley Plc, Samart I-Mobile Plc, 365 Communication, IEC International and M Consultant Corporation

However, each MVNO must first receive its licence from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC). At this stage only Samart has a licence with the others needing to apply and to successfully receive their licences before they can launch MVNO services.

H-Mobile wants to be an MVNO – Israel

Following on from the bad news for Netvision, H-Mobile has approached the Ministry to discuss how it will obtain its MVNO licence. H-Mobile is owned by Home Center (DIY) Ltd which is a subsidiary of Fishman Holdings.

Reports by Globes confirm that H-Mobile’s Chief Executive Officer, Udi Meartzi, has directly confirmed to them that it his intention for the company to become an MVNO. Globes state that the company is already in the planning stage and that they have been working with an international consultancy firm to assist with the MVNO business plan. At this stage we do not have details of whom they intend to partner with or what services they intend to offer to subscribers.

Geodesic potential MVNO – India

DNA India has reported that Geodesic Information Systems Ltd is keen to become an MVNO allowing them to diversify their business model. Geodesic is currently a mobile applications developer. In Singapore the company has also just been licensed to provide IP telephony services, which it too plans to roll out in India.

Kiran Kulkarni, Managing Director, Geodesic Information Systems Ltd, is quoted saying: “MVNO is an interesting option that we are looking into. We have products in the value added services (VAS) space. With airtime we would complete the stack."

Cherry Mobile launches seamless WiFi and GSM switching – Belgium

Mondial Telecom’s MVNO, Cherry Mobile, has signed up to use Comverse’s GSM and WiFi solution. The service works by switching between WiFi hotspots and normal GSM network coverage depending on whether the cheaper to use WiFi facility is available. Comverse’s Netcentrex IP Communications solution makes it so the user’s handset switches between the two technologies seamlessly.

Bernard Noël de Burlin, Chief Executive Officer of Mondial Telecom, said: “Comverse has been a valuable partner in this innovative project by enhancing the intelligence of the network to offer affordable mobile services over a unified network with user transparency. The Comverse Netcentrex hosted service is at the heart of our strategy to innovate into the mobile market and by doing so, become a differentiating mobile service provider. Both our business model and the technical know-how of Comverse were critical success factors for this launch.”

Lionel Chmilewsky, Chief Executive Officer of Netcentrex IP Communications at Comverse also commented: “This innovative technical FMC solution is an excellent example of how IP Communications expands the telecommunications business model. Our hosted IP Communications model, together with the robust, high-quality Comverse Netcentrex solution, lowers the technical and financial risk and the high entry cost for service providers to provide voice services.”

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

FRiENDi’s Sri Lankan clients to see prices fall - Oman

FRiENDi Mobile, the immigrant focused low cost MVNO, has found yet another overseas partner in its drive to bring down calling costs. Dialog Telekom and FRiENDi Mobile have entered into an agreement which will allow the two operators’ subscribers to call each others networks at a lower cost than before – both now offer the lowest market rate for such calls.

Supun Weerasinghe, Chief Executive Officer of Dialog, said: "Our partnership with FRiENDi mobile is an important step in our efforts to connect Sri Lankans overseas, as well as their friends and family back home. In addition to preferential call rates, both Dialog and FRiENDi will leverage this partnership to introduce value-added options that would enrich the mobile experience of customers in Oman and home. We are excited to be partnering with FRiENDi mobile, and we look forward to a successful partnership in the years ahead."

Antti Arponen, Chief Executive Officer for FRiENDi said: “Teaming up with Dialog is part of the focus of FRiENDi Mobile to serve people with a piece of their heart abroad, i.e. expatriates and nationals with an international element to their life. Providing Oman-based customers with value for money is our key aim when it comes to the Reach Out program, and we are continuing rolling out partnerships with mobile operators in Asia and elsewhere until we have all relevant countries covered."

Lycamobile grows and gets legal – Europe

This week European pre-paid MVNO Lycamobile announced that it had connected its 5 millionth subscriber (across all operations). Commenting on the figure, Chief Executive Milind Kangle stated that the company would carry its brand values forward into new markets.

Within the same week Lycamobile has further deepened its legal fight against T-Mobile Netherlands. Following a switch of MNO partner, Lycamobile subscribers have had difficulty in porting their numbers from the old network to the new. This week Lycamobile successfully won an initial legal case in The Hague, the result being that Lyca has been allowed to levy a prejudgement seizure against T-Mobile for EUR 15 million.

Netvision and others can not be MVNOs - Israel

Israel’s Ministry of Communications has been publically criticised by Netvision due its new policy on MVNOs which bar companies like Netvision from launching as MVNOs.

The problem for Netvision rests with it being a sister company to Celcom. In an effort to ensure true competition the regulator has stated that companies already in possession of licensed mobile spectrum may not launch their own MVNOs. This will stop what is a common wheeze as performed in Europe where MNOs launch new mobile brands and market them as being MVNOs; thus fooling the consumer into thinking they have bought the services of a different company from the known MNOs. As is the case with recently launched GiffGaff; the latter has been trumpeted as a new MVNO which heralds the way forward for a consumer run and consumer owned and operated network, but it is in fact owned and operated by o2.

In a Globes article, Richard Hunter, Chief Executive Officer at Netvision is quoted saying that the situation is illogical. The illogical part we are struggling to understand is why Netvision needs to be an MVNO. If they are in fact sister company to Celcom then there is nothing stopping Celcom from launching a branded offer for Netvision.