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

3 Jul 2017

Dixons Carphone has confirmed that it plans to sell its iD Mobile MVNO unit in the Republic of Ireland. In announcing its preliminary results for 2016/2017, the retail group revealed: ‘We have made the decision to exit our iD Mobile operations in the Republic of Ireland. The iD Mobile operations in the Republic of Ireland represent a different business model to the UK, as it is a capacity MVNO with options for expanding its spectrum. This brings with it excellent control, but that comes with upfront costs and increased administration, and we believe the business will flourish faster under dedicated ownership.’ The Irish unit posted a trading loss of GBP10 million (USD13 million) in FY2016/17, up from GBP6 million in the year-ago period. On a brighter note, iD Mobile UK has increased its active user base from 325,000 to 600,000 in the year under review. The parent company cites its ‘differentiated proposition and innovative tariffs’ as the key factors behind its growth.

Another Irish MVNO set to change hands in the near future is Tesco Mobile Ireland, with retail group Tesco Ireland set to buy the 50% stake held by Three Ireland, to assume full control of the business. A joint statement from the two companies read: ‘The overall agreement between the companies is part of a new strategic plan for Tesco Mobile and is advantageous for all parties. Tesco Ireland has reached agreement with Three to buy Three’s 50% stake of Tesco Mobile Ireland, and therefore take full ownership of the business. The completion of the sale is subject to regulatory approval. There will no impact on Tesco Mobile customers.’ Three will continue to provide Tesco Mobile with access to its network for the next three years.

Over in Latin America, Mexico has another new MVNO in the form of Oui Movil, a unit of domestic retail group Elektra. The MVNO offers both 3G and 4G connectivity from launch. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s MVNO Monday, Grupo Elektra signed an agreement to lease capacity on Telcel’s network back in March 2015. Elektra, which sells electronic goods and household appliances, and also runs Banco Azteca through its financial division, is owned by the tycoon Ricardo Salinas Pliego, who exited the Mexican wireless sector in 2015 when he sold his interest in Iusacell to AT&T Inc for USD2.5 billion.

Elsewhere, Snail Mobile, China’s largest MVNO has revealed that its subscriber base has reached ten million. The unit, which is a division of the Suzhou Snail Digital Technology Company, commonly known as Snail Games, pitches itself as the industry’s premier ‘gaming MNVO’. As such, MVNO subscribers enjoy monthly gaming privileges of up to CNY70 (USD10.3) in the Snail Store.

Sticking with China, YuanTel, the country’s second largest MVNO by subscribers – has confirmed that it now has eight million active users. Clarifying its Internet of Things (IoT) ambitions at Mobile World Congress Shanghai last week, the virtual operator noted that its ‘installed capacity of front-end in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) exceeded 300,000 units, and the subscription base for its IoT accounts is now more than 100,000.’

Elsewhere in Asia, appliance hire-purchase company Singer Thailand has entered the virtual sector, with the launch of its new Singer SIM card. Billed as a collaborative effort with local MVNO The White Space Co, Singer SIM cards will not be sold on a standalone basis, but will instead be offered via Singer’s leasing service. Customers can also buy a smartphone and add a Singer SIM package for an extra THB299 (USD8.77) per month. Kittipong Kanokvilairat, chief executive of Singer Thailand, told the Bangkok Post that the company aims to sell 2,000 smartphones with Singer SIMs each month. The White Space Co launched as a budget MVNO over the CAT Telecom network on 1 March 2016.

Finally, over in Spain, Catalan MVNO Parlem has inked deals with Orange Espana and MASMOVIL Telecom to offer fibre-optic broadband connectivity to a total of nine million homes – two million of which are in Catalonia. According to XatakaMovil.com the wholesale agreement will take effect in October this year.

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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