Pay-TV/broadband operator Sky Ireland and EE, the mobile division of BT Group, are believed to be weighing takeover bids for iD Mobile Ireland – the MVNO business recently put up for sale by Dixons Carphone. iD has around 30,000 subscribers, and offers services over the Three Ireland network. The unit posted a trading loss of GBP10 million (USD13 million) in FY2016/17, compared to GBP6 million in the previous year, prompting Dixons Carphone’s decision to offload it. According to the Sunday Times, Sky Ireland is the clear front-runner for the unit. TeleGeography notes that the addition of an MVNO business makes strategic sense for Sky, which debuted its UK MVNO on a nationwide basis in January this year.
Austria is poised to witness the launch of two new MVNOs in the coming months, namely Goood Mobile and Help Mobile. The latter, which pitches itself as a family-friendly virtual operator, will go live on 28 August, under the management of MassResponse, which currently offers virtual services under the Spusu brand. Socially-conscious MVNO Goood will launch in September, meanwhile, over the A1 network. Goood, the product of a crowd-funding campaign, is already active in Germany, TeleGeography notes.
Over in Russia, Sberbank-Telecom, a subsidiary of Sberbank, has started testing its Tele2-enabled MVNO in St Petersburg, with a commercial launch expected to be imminent. According to ComNews, the virtual operator will use a Full MVNO model, and currently has the rights to use 10,000 mobile numbers in St Petersburg and Moscow. Further, the bank will reportedly use the brand ‘Let’s Talk’.
Another Russian bank with designs on the MVNO market is Otkritie Bank, the largest privately owned Russian bank, and the fourth largest domestic banking group in terms of assets. ComNews notes that a pilot project is expected to take place in 2H17, and the MVNO will use the Beeline Russia network, via a tie-up with technology firm Kantrikom. The bank, which operates in 54 regions, will seek to target its 3.6 million-strong customer base.
In other Russian news, national operator Rostelecom has announced that its Tele2-powered MVNO unit passed the 500,000-subscriber mark last month. According to ComNews, the MVNO service, which launched in November 2016, previously claimed 224,000 subscribers as of 31 March.
Japan’s KDDI has announced that it will acquire the outstanding shares of Internet of Things (IoT) specialist Soracom, making the smaller company a consolidated subsidiary of KDDI. Soracom, which claims to ‘combine over-the-air connectivity with cloud capability to deliver secure communication optimized for IoT and M2M’ has a worldwide base of 7,000 customers. TeleGeography notes that Soracom launched its IoT platform in September 2015, using the NTT DOCOMO network for connectivity.
Finally, Mexico-based Maxcom has confirmed that its mobile virtual network aggregator (MVNA) unit Celmax Movil is now owned 51% by Maxcom, with the remaining shares held by unspecified new investors, all of whom participated in a recent capital increase exercise. The development was confirmed in the telco’s 2Q17 quarterly results bulletin.
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