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

19 Jun 2017

Senegal’s Authority of Regulation of Telecommunications and Posts (L’Autorite de Regulation des Telecommunications et des Postes, ARTP) has reportedly granted three MVNO licences, following its public call for applications on 12 April 2017. Local media sources have indicated that the successful licensees are You Mobile, which is owned by international music star Youssou N’dour; Origines SA, which is backed by fellow musician El Hadj Ndiaye; and Sirius Africa, owned by Mbackiyou Faye. As per the local press reports, the wholesale contracts inked with Senegalese mobile network operators (MNOs) have been valued as follows: You Mobile (Orange, XOF400 million [USD682,618]); Origines (Expresso, XOF300 million) and Sirius (Tigo, XOF300 million). A total of nine would-be MVNOs were said to be on the shortlist, although one familiar name lost out altogether. An unverified report from Leral.net claims that Lycamobile Group – registered as Lycamobile Senegal on 23 May – failed to fulfil local ownership criteria, and was forced to go into partnership with Senegalese firm Wotel in an attempt to secure a licence; this bid proved similarly unsuccessful.

Carrefour Movil, which became Spain’s first MVNO when it launched on 27 October 2006, has announced that it is planning to terminate its service on 31 December 2017. The supermarket-backed virtual operator is inviting affected customers to port their numbers to an alternative provider with immediate effect, and notes that a deal is in place with host network Orange Espana, which will allow users to move to Orange, or one of its sub-brands Jazztel and Simyo and receive a seamless service.

Another MVNO that is poised to shut its virtual doors is Thailand’s Samart i-Mobile, which operates a legacy service over the TOT network (since December 2009), alongside a newer service over the CAT Telecom network (since June 2016). The Bangkok Post claims that the TOT-based service has fewer than 10,000 subscribers, while the CAT-enabled MVNO currently accounts for less than 5,000 users. The newspaper claims that the company has informed the National Broadcasting & Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) of its plans, and suspended all marketing activities.

Sticking with Thailand, the Bangkok Post has reported that mobile operator DTAC has attracted regulatory scrutiny over its partnership with LINE, the Japanese arm of South Korean internet content provider Naver Corp. LINE, which enjoyed great success as a communications application, before entering the Japanese MVNO space as LINE Mobile in 2016, is now poised to enter the Thai MVNO sector, but currently lacks an MVNO licence. NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith summoned the two firms to a meeting in response to a complaint about the planned launch, the newspaper writes.

UK-based Telecom Plus, which operates as a multi-utility supplier (gas, electricity, landline, broadband and mobile) under the Utility Warehouse name, has published its annual results for the year ended 31 March 2017, reporting a total of 201,372 MVNO subscribers, up 19% from 169,136 one year earlier. The MVNO, which piggybacks on the EE network, added 4G access to its proposition in autumn 2016. Mobile revenues increased from GBP24.4 million (USD31.2 million) to GBP27.5 million in the year under review.

Finally, Russian long-distance fixed network provider Multiregional Transit Telecom (MTT), which previously launched as a mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) in 2016, has confirmed that it has started offering would-be MVNOs a new ‘MVNO-in-a-box’ white-label solution. The telco expects to enable the launch of between five and ten new MVNOs by the end of the year, four of which have been identified as LPTracker (a software developer), Estonia-based ‘alternative telecommunications’ provider Top Connect, GlobalLine Telecom and 1C-SP. MTT’s director of interconnection, Andrey Azhigirov, told ComNews: ‘The fact that we are neutral and provide market-independent MVNE platform, becoming, in essence, an incubator for MVNO-projects is a significant advantage for the MTT partners.’

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 90 countries and 850 virtual operators. If you would like to find out more, please email sales@telegeography.com

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