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

22 Feb 2016

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has denied a challenge to its ruling that wireless carriers are not required to share access to their networks with companies that do not own cellular airwaves of their own. As previously reported by MVNO Monday, in August last year the Canadian Network Operators Consortium (CNOC) – an industry group representing 37 independent ISPs – asked the watchdog to ‘review and vary’ part of its May 2015 decision on competition, asserting that the current rules offer little in the way of regulatory support for would-be MVNOs. Last week the CRTC responded to the August appeal, ruling that the original decision would stand, since the facts and arguments since then had not substantially changed since its initial ruling. In its decision, the CRTC noted: ‘On balance … the Commission determined that the benefits of mandating MVNO access services were outweighed by the impact on overall wireless network investment … In fact, the evidence submitted during the wholesale mobile wireless service proceeding demonstrated that multiple wireless carriers had the ability to self-supply or to successfully negotiate access to the towers and sites of other wireless carriers. In addition, given that the Commission’s current powers under the Act [Telecom Regulatory Policy 2015-177] allow it to impose conditions related to tower and site sharing services, as well as to make findings of unjust discrimination and undue preference with respect to the provision of these services, the Commission determined that no further regulatory intervention was required’.

The Czech Telecommunication Office (CTU) has reportedly ordered mobile network operators (MNOs) to lower the wholesale prices charged to MVNOs, following an investigation into the ability of MVNOs to replicate the retail prices of MNOs – based on the current wholesale reference offers relating to LTE access. The purpose of the assessment was to establish whether wholesale prices allow the alternative operators to run a profitable business in the retail market. The regulator conducted a similar assessment back in March 2015.

Elsewhere in the Czech Republic, Kaktus, the T-Mobile sub-brand that launched in October 2013, has announced that its user base has reached 100,000. The operator, which has sought to distinguish itself primarily by providing a customer-focused support set-up via Facebook. Data usage reportedly accounted for 45% of Kaktus’ revenues in full-year 2015, with voice calls and SMS accounting for 32% and 23% of sales, respectively.

Slovak Telecom has unveiled its own sub-brand in the form of discount operator Juro. The new unit, which asserts that its pricing strategy undercuts tariffs offered by the likes of FunFon and Tesco Mobile, utilises imagery associated with Slovak folk hero Juro Janosik – a much-loved symbol of resistance to oppression.

Finally, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has taken Lycamobile Australia to task over its refusal to comply with the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code (TCP). An investigation by the authority found that the UK-owned MVNO had failed to keep any records of due response dates for its complaints, and in some limited circumstances had not advised customers of delays in dealing with their complaints or kept records of proposed resolutions. Lycamobile has agreed to undertake a review its complaints-handling record-keeping to ensure it meets the requirements of the TCP.

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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