Friday, 4 December 2009

Cable operators bypassing MVNO route – Spain

Spain’s telecom regulator is to auction additional spectrum in the 2.6Ghz range during Q1 2010. Ono, Euskaltel, R and Telecable are reportedly considering a team bid. The move would see the 4 cable based operators clubbing together in an attempt to provide mobile services without having to buy minutes and access from the established MNOs.

Being practical, this is somewhat of a messy idea. In France, Numericable and Virgin Mobile failed to fully bid in the French auction due to complications. With double the amount of operators in a single bid there will arguably be double the amount of complications. Euskatel also already has an active MVNO arrangement with Vodafone signed back in 2006. Spain also has a very established MNO market consisting of 4 operators. This includes France Telecom, Telefonica and Vodafone, being 3 of the biggest players in the mobile world.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

SIM wants 40% of MVNO market share - Thailand

While the fighting continues over termination rate pricing and rates for minutes between TOT and the 5 coming MVNOs, SIM has announced that they are expecting to win up to 40% of the MVNO market share in Bangkok.

The soon to be MVNO expects to harvest 20,000 subscribers within their first month of operation and 200,000 within year 1. The company is still stating that they expect SIM to generate 5-10% of Samart I-Mobile's revenue for 2010.

Although due to imminently start their MVNO businesses only 3 of the 5 potential MVNOs have received full approvals for launching services; being Loxley, Samart I-Mobile and 365 Communications.

KDDI lauches $60 tariff – USA

KDDI is joining the unlimited tariff operators by offering its subscribers a USD 60 tariff. For this they will receive unlimited same network minutes, unlimited domestic weekend and evening calls and up to 400 minutes for free outside of these hours to other US networks.

The American KDDI launched in 2007 via Telcorida over Sprint’s network. The service looked to primarily target Japanese nationals and their families living in the USA.

Videotron moving further from MVNO to MNO – Canada

Quebec based Cable operator, Videotron, has come out fighting in the marketing battle for who has the biggest and best network. The operator is currently building a 3G network of their own to launch wireless services over in the Quebec region. The operator claims that subscribers will have a superior experience using their network compared to the existing networks. The rational behind this is that they will have fewer users and therefore greater capacity to manage the traffic, therefore the service will not be hindered by bottle necks from too many subscribers.

Users of the service will roam onto Rogers network within Canada when outside of Videotron’s network and onto T-Mobile when in the USA.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Mobile Partners Group gets Loxley on board for m-broadband – Thailand

Loxley has approached UK based Mobile Partners Group for their technological assistance in launching a 3G mobile broadband MVNO in Bangkok. The soon to launch MVNO is hoping to secure 30,000 subscribers to the ‘i-kool 3G’ mobile broadband service and to break even within 18 months of launch.

Loxley was one of 5 firms selected by TOT to offer mobile services over the new network. The state owned MNO hopes that their new MVNO partners will assist in rapidly generating traffic and revenue over the network to ensure a good return on their investment.

Thailand’s mobile market is somewhat different to other nations. There are according to The MNO Directory ( 6 active MNO in Thailand. However, only 2 of these MNOs actually own their network. The 4 other networks have licensed spectrum and must pay for and build out their own networks - but the ownership of these networks falls to either CAT (generally CDMA) or TOT (generally GSM). Both CAT and TOT are state owned.

XLN Telecom enters mobile market – United Kingdom

Gamma Telecom has signed up XLN Telecom as its first MVNO. The move will see XLN launch mobile services before the host MVNE, being Gamma, launches its own MVNO.

XLN is a London based fixed line provider targeting the SME sector (small-medium sized enterprise). The company, according to ‘mobile news’, has 125,000 existing clients who will be the initial targets of its MVNO business. Being an MVNO via an MVNE the need to sign up huge volumes of clients should not be as big an issue compared to a direct relationship with an MNO. XLN will become part of a collective of operators working for MNO ‘3’, via Gamma.

XLN Telecom’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Christian Nellemann commented: "We are delighted to offer best value mobile phone services to complement those we already provide for landline calls and broadband. For too long SMEs have been forced to pay over the top for mobile services they just do not need or particularly want. By designing mobile tariffs based around what our business land-line customers say they actually need, we are now able to completely shake-up the market in this sector."

Virgin Mobile speeds up m-broadband – United Kingdom

Quadruple-play provider, Virgin Media, has released a new 7.2 MB USB modem, which is twice the speed of their existing offering. No indications of actual network speeds came with the announcement, being something which consumer groups have become very vocal about.

Graeme Oxby, Executive Director for Mobile, Virgin Media, commented: “We’re thrilled to be offering this faster mobile broadband to our users. If you’re not at home or near a wireless connection, mobile broadband is the best way of staying connected on the move and we’re delighted to be making this a speedier, more pleasant experience for our customers.”

The mobile broadband service is part of Virgin’s MVNO relationship with T-Mobile.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

MTNL looks to Virgin to rescue failed 3G launch – India

Six months after launching their 3G networks in Delhi and Mumbai, MTNL (state owned) has managed to amass 1,000 subscribers for the advanced service. On any scale this is not a feasible return on investment so MTNL put out to tender the network as a franchise.

Only 2 firms actually bid for the franchise with the other bid coming from Spice Group, whose MNO operation is now a part of Idea Cellular. Spice withdrew from the bidding due to inappropriate experience (specifically 3G) rather than being outbid.

MTNL has set Virgin a revenue target of USD 51.7 million for both the Delhi and Mumbai operations (each) over a 3 year period. Revenues falling short of target will be met with a fine of 10% of the difference (between actual revenue and targeted revenue, payable from Virgin to MTNL). MTNL also reserves the right to refranchise or to increase the quantities of franchisees should Virgin not succeed.

Virgin Mobile acts as an MVNO in India or as a franchise as they are locally referred to. The operation is a joint venture between Tata Teleservices and the Virgin Group.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Unilava launches MVNO - USA

Baldwin Yung, President and Chief Executive Officer of Unilava Corp, has announced that the company is to launch an MVNO based mobile division. The launch will strengthen the company’s existing portfolio of telecommunication offerings to both SMEs and residential users. Mobile services offered will include both CDMA and GSM technologies as well as 3G and converged offerings.

The company runs its own ‘40 carrier-grade microwave wireless broadband infrastructure’ and sees the MVNO option as a good add-on to its current offering. Unilava already operates the mobile service as Telava Mobile. The new division will allow for greater marketing activity.

Their mobile plan starts at USD 12.99 per month and a mobile broadband service is also available for USD 50 per month (5GB limit).

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Orcon deciding on host MNO – New Zealand

Broadband ISP Orcon has been in the news this week in regards to their planned MVNO. The company has been consulting its existing subscriber base looking to find out how to win them over to a mobile service with Orcon, as opposed to their existing suppliers. Nothing has been formally set out by Orcon and even the host MNO is being debated.

Orcon already has a mobile network agreement with Vodafone to host the MVNO. However, Telcom recently announced that it would be wholesaling its new XT network. Telcom is also the fixed line supplier used by Orcon to provide their broadband offering.

Orcon’s Head of Marketing, Duncan Blair, has been quoted by Action Media saying: “I guess we could have launched a while ago with plans like the other MVNOs have done. It would have been quite similar to what’s in the market and I guess we didn’t feel like that’s very Orcon, if you like. We like to do things a little bit differently as you know.”

Being an early mover can be a good move for any new MVNO; it is better to hit a market with few competitors than to be the 30th entrant. However, the decision to hold back is a good one. Far too many MVNOs launch services on the basis of thinking they are great or by offering what is a cheaper alternative (for the time being) to the competition. Inevitably such a weak marketing strategy leads to failure and elsewhere the concept of multi-play offerings has failed to gain traction.