UK-based mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) group Lycamobile has set its sights on Pakistan as part of its ongoing international expansion drive. According to the Express Tribune, Minister of State for Information Technology Anusha Rahman hosted a two-man Lycamobile delegation from the UK this week, which was headed by senior business executive Faheem Shehzad. The minister reportedly said that she appreciated the company’s keen interest in investing in Pakistan, assuring Lycamobile of the government’s full support. The delegates apprised the minister of the global business potentials and key features of their company ahead of what is expected to be a formal approach for an MVNO concession.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, back in October 2009 the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) courted controversy when it increased the price of an MVNO licence from USD10,000 to USD5 million. The Ministry of Information and Technology (MoIT) asked the PTA to reconsider its stance, and representatives of major players Mobilink and Telenor Pakistan criticised the framework, arguing that it discouraged new operators from entering the market. However, the PTA refused to back down and the MVNO market remains something of a pipedream.
Lycamobile, which was founded in September 2006, is currently active in 17 markets: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States. Lycamobile’s commercial launch in an 18th market, Romania, is anticipated in the near future. Initially targeted at expatriate communities in Europe, in recent years Lycamobile has increasingly set its sights on developing a global brand. At the end of 2013, the company claimed a global MVNO base of more than 30 million users.