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

3 Oct 2016

Malaysian MVNO Buzz Me has launched in Thailand, in association with mobile virtual network aggregator (MVNA) Enabling Asia Tech, which is also its parent company. In an interview with Digital News Asia, CEO Loke Yee Siong said that the Malaysian business is already profitable after three years, adding: ‘The minute you start to think like [the MNOs], you start to lose. I think a lot of MVNOs make the same mistake. The minute you play like the big boys, spend like them, you will lose … We leveraged a lot on digital marketing, social media, and so forth.’ Going forward, the MVNO seeks to expand its reach across south-east Asia, and harbours plans to launch in Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar. Loke commented: ‘We hope to expand to Indonesia by end of this year. We have identified the partner mobile operator. Unlike our Thailand expansion, which involves acquiring an existing MVNO, our Indonesia expansion plan is more about co-branding initiative with existing mobile operator’. The executive expects the company to launch in the Philippines by the first half of next year, and enter Myanmar by end of 2017.

India’s Videocon Telecommunications Ltd is in ‘active discussions’ with Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL), Reliance Jio Infocomm and Bharti Airtel with a view to launching an MVNO business. The company’s chief executive Arvind Bali told reporters: ‘We have very carefully evaluated the MVNO model and we feel it is a perfect platform for us to make a comeback in the telecom space … Our first and foremost priority for MVNO rollout will be Punjab telecom circle, where we already have a strong three million customers.’ According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, while VTL has shut down its mobile services in all areas where it held licences directly, the provider still offers wireless services in Punjab via concessions held by fellow Videocon Group subsidiary Quadrant Televentures, although the exact nature of their partnership remains unclear.

Technology asset accelerator Yonder & Beyond Group has liquidated its Australian MeU Mobile unit as part of a push to restructure its MVNO business. According to ARNnet.com.au, the ASX-listed company, which focuses heavily on mobile technology businesses, told shareholders on 29 September that the proposed restructuring will deliver a ‘superior offering’ to its customers, as it seeks to replace the service with a new 4G-focused offering. According to its website, Yonder & Beyond holds a 47.97% stake in MeU Mobile, which officially launched in May 2015, piggybacking on Telstra’s 3G network.

Uff Movil, which became Colombia’s first MVNO when it launched back in November 2010, has become the latest Latin American virtual operator to partner with Austria-based mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) I-New. Uff hopes that by migrating its business onto I-New’s platform it will ‘fuel growth strategies’ and help it to launch ‘new and dynamic mobile products and services’ before year-end. TeleGeography notes that Uff Movil’s subscriber base had plummeted to 140,208 as of 1Q16, down from a peak of 529,834 in December 2014. Uff Movil is operated by the US-based company Virtual Communications and was previously owned by Colombia’s largest bank Bancocolombia.

A1 Telekom Austria has unveiled a new branded reseller in the shape of Educom, a partnership with Edustore, an electronics retailer which targets the students. According to the telco, Edustore members will gain access to the Educom member programme. Educom launches today (3 October).

Finally, California-based vendor SugarCRM has announced that Sprint-owned sub-brand Virgin Mobile USA has selected it to better service customers with a modern, digital engagement strategy, ‘as part of the brand’s coming evolution’. Dow Draper, Virgin Mobile USA CEO, commented: ‘As we got to know the team at SugarCRM, it was clear there was a lot of synergy. They, like Virgin Mobile, are industry disruptors that go head-to-head with large competitors by offering something different than the status quo.’

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

Australia, Austria, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, United States , A1 Telekom Austria, Buzz Me (Mobile 8 Telco), Buzz Me (Thailand), Educom, Enabling Asia (MVNA), I-New, MeU Mobile, SugarCRM, Uff Movil, Videocon Telecommunications Limited (VTL), Virgin Mobile USA (incl. Boost Mobile)

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