MVNO Monday: a guide to the week’s virtual operator developments

8 Feb 2016

Self-styled ‘multi-ethnic’ MVNO Ringo Mobile has disclosed plans to enter the Senegalese telecoms market under the Ringo Africa brand. The news was revealed by Egyptian-born Ramy Berbesh, the chairman of Ringo Mobile, after a visit to Dakar. As reported by TeleGeography’s MVNO Monday, Ringo Mobile launched its Italian MVNO in September 2015, more than a year since the mobile virtual network aggregator (MVNA) Noverca and International Communication Services (ICS) announced the venture. The operator, which has promoted itself as ‘Italy’s first multi-ethnic MVNO’, piggybacks on the TIM (formerly Telecom Italia) network in its domestic market. Berbesh notes that the Italian unit has signed up 26,000 customers to date, 4,800 of which are Senegalese. Going forward, Ringo hopes to reach 100,000 customers in Senegal by end-December 2016, before commencing operations in the likes of Spain, Greece and France, all of which have a large African diaspora.

Lycamobile Austria has been granted a stay of execution by the Regulatory Authority for Telecoms and Broadcasting (Rundfunk & Telekom Regulierungs, RTR), following the threat that the MVNO’s licence could have been revoked at the end of last month. The dispute relates to mobile number portability (MNP) rules, with the MVNO attracting complaints for its refusal to port customer numbers back in September 2014. The UK-owned MVNO has lodged an appeal with the Federal Administrative Court, meaning that the RTR’s hands are now tied until a substantive decision is made. Lycamobile launched in November 2013, using the A1 Telekom Austria network.

Canning Fok, the chairman of UK mobile network operator (MNO) Three UK, has promised that his company will offer improved wholesale arrangements to MVNOs if it is allowed to acquire O2 UK. If the GBP10.25 billion (USD14.85 billion) deal is approved, the combined entity promises to offer what Fok calls ‘fractional shared ownership interests in our network capacity’ to wholesale customers. While the precise nature of the offer remains unclear, Fok claims the move would be ‘unprecedented’ in the UK and do away with the ‘tricks some wholesalers use to disadvantage their wholesale customers’.

Mast Mobile has launched a US MVNO that enables customers to use two numbers – one for work and another for personal use – on a single phone. The New York-based company uses the Sprint Corp network, and allows customers to port an existing number and get a new one, or launch service with two new numbers. According to Fierce Wireless, CEO David Messenger and chief business officer Peter Lurie are former executives at Virgin Mobile USA. The new MVNO has raised USD12.4 million through two rounds of funding, including a USD7 million round, announced in October 2015.

A new player has entered the MVNO space in Canada in the form of Sugar Mobile, a brand of Ice Wireless, a facilities-based MNO delivering 3G/4G HSPA+ technology to rural and remote areas of Canada. Ice Wireless has reciprocal roaming agreements with the big Canadian telcos, whose customers roam on the Ice Wireless network in cities like Whitehorse, Yellowknife and Inuvik. As such, Ice Wireless, via the new Sugar Mobile brand, is essentially selling the network access that it has through roaming agreements in Southern Canada to retail customers. Both Sugar and Ice are majority-owned by communications company Iristel, which claims to be the only competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) with facilities in all ten provinces and three territories.

Chilean retail group Falabella, which offers MVNO services in its domestic market, could launch in Peru in the second half of the year, local press reports have suggested. Last month Peru’s Supervisory Agency for Private Investment in Telecommunications (Organismo Supervisor de Inversion Privada en Telecommuniciones, Osiptel) approved the final set of measures relating to the planned introduction of MVNOs in the country, with Falabella now expected to be among the first virtual entrants.

Finally, it has been revealed that US-based vendor Amdocs is now hosting all five of Liberty Global’s recently launched MVNOs on one centralised platform, taking charge of daily operations, maintenance, application development and testing. UPC Austria (launched in December 2014) and Virgin Media Ireland (launched in October 2015) join the cable group’s operations in Switzerland (April 2014), the Netherlands (October 2014) and Hungary (November 2014).

We welcome your feedback about MVNO Monday. If you have any questions, topic suggestions, or corrections, please email editors@commsupdate.com

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database is now home to the telecoms industry’s fastest-growing collection of MVNO data, covering more than 80 countries and 800 virtual operators. If you would like to find out more, please email sales@telegeography.com

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