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

28 Jan 2019

US-based Telrite Holdings, which currently owns the Pure Talk USA and Life Wireless MVNOs, has agreed to purchase Locus Telecommunications, which offers MVNO services under its own name, and under the H20 Wireless brand. Telrite claims that the deal will create one of the largest pre-paid MVNOs in the US. Headquartered in Fort Lee, New Jersey, Locus (including H20) serves approximately one million customers and maintains a national distribution network that spans over 100,000 retailers and generates more than billion network minutes each month. William Curry, Chief Strategy Officer at Telrite Holdings, commented: ‘The acquisition of H2O Wireless enables us to expand our footprint and ability to serve a range of customers not well served by other providers.’ While the identity of the selling party has not been disclosed, TeleGeography notes that KDDI America acquired a majority stake in Locus back in 2010 and is still believed to control the company. The deal is subject to the usual regulatory approvals.

Sticking with the US, Comcast-backed MVNO Xfinity Mobile has reported net subscriber additions of 227,000 in the fourth quarter of 2018, to end the year with 1.236 million mobile customers. Comcast notes that the fledgling MVNO unit generated a loss of USD191 million in 4Q18, compared to a loss of USD176 million in the prior year period.

Over in Brazil, US-owned CenturyLink Brazil – which was created following CenturyLink’s USD34 billion merger with Level 3 Communications in November 2017 – has reportedly inked an MVNO contract with local mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) Surf Telecom. Surf Telecom utilises the TIM Brasil network for connectivity and will help deliver 3G and 4G connectivity to CenturyLink’s corporate user base.

Swedish cableco Com Hem, which was recently merged with local cellco Tele2, is relaunching its mobile services via a new MVNO agreement. The cable operator previously provided mobile connectivity via a wholesale deal signed in 2008 with 3 Sweden, with services aimed primarily at business users, but is now switching to the Tele2 network. Com Hem has begun marketing services for its residential user base, claiming to be the only brand in Sweden capable of offering broadband, pay-TV and mobile services on a single bill.

A new blockchain-based MVNO has launched in the Czech Republic under the name Miracle Tele. Registered in Prague in April 2018, and licensed by the Czech Telecommunication Office (Cesky telekomunikacni urad, CTU) to commence mobile operations from 1 January 2019, the company already claims to have signed up 15,000 active SIM card users, who spend an average of EUR15 (USD17.1) per month. Going forward Miracle Tele seeks to sign up 25,000 active MVNO users by end-June 2019, rising to 125,000 by December 2020. The company claims to provide voice and data services in 163 countries and ‘uses the principles of collaborative economy on blockchain to provide its clients with biweekly token holder rewards’.

Finally, over in the Netherlands, KPN sub-brand Telfort has confirmed that it will shut all of its retail stores on 1 May 2019, although marketing will continue online while KPN finalises a decision on when to cease selling Telfort services to new customers. The move stems from KPN’s announcement earlier this month to focus on the parent brand and phase out four multi-play sub-brands – Telfort, Telfort Zakelijk (Telfort Business), XS4ALL and Yes Telecom – in 2019-2020 whilst incorporating their unique selling points into the KPN multi-play range. Telfort – owned by KPN since 2005 – offers mobile, broadband, fixed line and TV services, and is ranked as the largest Dutch MVNO/mobile sub-brand by user volume.

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

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