The Dutch mobile market is set to gain its seventh mobile operator in the near future following the signing of a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) agreement between Scarlet Telecom and Orange Netherlands. Scarlet, which supplies carrier pre-selection (CPS) fixed line and internet services to approximately 300,000 households in Belgium and the Netherlands, has said it will launch its Dutch mobile operations before the end of June 2004, and will initially offer voice and SMS services on a post-paid basis only. It is aiming for 100,000 business and residential subscribers within two years, which it hopes to achieve by cross-selling to its existing fixed line customers. The Lelystad-based company has said its main selling point will be cheap calls between its CPS and MVNO networks.
The Netherlands houses one of Europe’s most crowded mobile markets, and one which is swiftly approaching saturation. At the end of September 2003 there were six mobile operators competing for market share – KPN Mobile, Vodafone, Telfort (formerly O2), Orange, T-Mobile and another newly established MVNO, Tele2 Mobiel, which operates over Telfort’s network. All except Tele2 hold 3G licences, although none has launched services; the country hopes to have its first 3G network in operation by the beginning of 2004. At the end of September 2003 the nation had around 13.14 million mobile subscribers, a cellular penetration rate of 81.4%, up from 11.95 million and 72.8% at the start of the year. KPN Mobile has managed to retain its dominant position, with a 39% market share, although its rivals are gradually closing the gap, with Vodafone claiming 26% and T-Mobile 14%.