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

12 Mar 2018

Retail giant Dixon’s Carphone is poised to liquidate its Irish MVNO unit iD Mobile, after failing to attract a buyer for the struggling business. The Irish Times quotes the parent company as saying that iD was unable to grow its business sufficiently against the established operators, and its losses became unsustainable. The group has applied to the High Court for the appointment of a provisional liquidator, whom it will provide with the cash to maintain iD Mobile while its 40,000 customers move to new networks. iD Mobile Ireland has notched up a deficit EUR25.2 million (USD31.0 million) after some three years of trading, the report adds. The MVNO will officially shut down on 6 April.

Sticking with western Europe, Netplus, a triple-play provider serving French-speaking Switzerland, has activated its new MVNO service. The mobile offering is delivered over the Sunrise network, following a wholesale agreement in September 2017.

Belgian MVNO Mobile Vikings has confirmed that its plans to shift from a Light MVNO operating model, to that of a Full MVNO are now underway, and it is in the process of sending out replacement SIM cards. The press release notes: ‘As a Full MVNO we will be able to manage a far greater amount of functionality ourselves. Too bad building our own mobile network remains out of our league.’

Over in Saudi Arabia, Virgin Mobile KSA has confirmed that its subscriber base stood at ‘over 2.8 million’ at the end of 2017, and is expected to reach close to 3.5 million by the end of 2018. The MVNO claims that it registered ‘staggering’ revenue growth of over 50% in 2017, as well as ‘highly encouraging and positive EBITDA and net results’. The company received its Saudi operating licence in March 2014 and launched commercial services on 30 September 2014 over the network of Saudi Telecom Company (STC), targeting the youth market.

Correios Cellular, which is owned by the Brazilian post office, claims to have reached the 100,000-subscriber milestone on the first anniversary of its launch. The MVNO, which is operational in twelve states, namely: Amapa, Bahia, Brasilia, Maranhao, Minas Gerais, Para, Parana, Rio de Janeiro, Santa Catarina, Sao Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul and Rio Grande do Norte, is poised to launch in Mato Grosso do Sul and Piaui later this month.

International MVNO group Lebara reportedly runs the risk of defaulting on its debt obligations, after failing to disclose its full financials. According to the Financial Times, Nordic Trustee, which is tasked with monitoring whether Lebara is meeting its debt obligations, confirmed that the company will be in technical default if it does not file full financials within 20 business days of the initial results being published. The article notes that Nordic broker Pareto Securities managed the company’s bond issue in August 2017, selling the debt governed by Norwegian law primarily to local investors. As previously reported by MVNO Monday, Swiss investor Palmarium – through its subsidiary VIEO – announced the acquisition of the London-based group in September 2017.

Finally, self-styled ‘freemium’ MVNO FreedomPop has announced a partnership with Prudential Financial, to license its ‘Accelerate Platform’ to ‘drive digital conversion, acquisition and monetisation’. Nicholas Constantinopoulos, FreedomPop’s President (International), commented: ‘The ARPU and fees in financial services are enormous compared to telecoms. By licensing our platform, financial services companies are able to take a massive leap in digital capability to drive maximum ARPU.’

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 1,000 virtual operators. If you would like to find out more, please email sales@telegeography.com

Belgium, Brazil, Ireland, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States,Carphone Warehouse Ireland Mobile (iD Mobile), Correios Celular (Brazil), FreedomPop, Lebara Group, Mobile Vikings (Belgium), netplus, Virgin Mobile Saudi Arabia (incl. FRiENDi),

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