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

7 Oct 2019

Peru has a new MVNO in the form of Cuy Movil, which launched on 1 October over the Claro Peru network. The youth-orientated virtual operator received a licence from the Ministry of Transport and Communications (Ministerio de Transportes y Comunicaciones, MTC) back in January 2018, and went on to secure a wholesale deal with Claro in April that year. CEO Mariano de Osma told Gestion.pe that he expects the newcomer to sign up 40,000 customers within its first year of operation.

Sticking with Peru, Tuenti Movil, the Movistar Peru sub-brand that launched back in October 2014, will be discontinued as of 13 October. As a result, all 150,000 Tuenti customers will be migrated onto Movistar’s ‘value proposition’ tariff. Luis Villalobos, director of the cellco’s pre-paid segment, commented: ‘Customers and their experience with our services are at the centre of our priorities. In that line, thinking of simplifying the value offer focused on the satisfaction of our users, it has been decided that Movistar is the brand that serves Tuenti customers in Peru.’

Soy Movil (legally known as Telenort Soluciones Integrales) is the latest virtual operator to enter the increasingly crowded Spanish MVNO market. The Cantabria-based company is offering a dual 4G/fibre proposition, with both services offered over the Grupo MASMOVIL network.

edpnet, a Belgian full-service B2B provider which also has a presence in the Netherlands, has reportedly relaunched its MVNO business over the Orange Belgium network, replacing its existing arrangement with Telenet. The network switch has been made possible as a result of edpnet’s February 2019 takeover of Galaxy Group, a Dutch firm active within the corporate segment. Galaxy Group operates a pair of MVNOs – Galaxy Mobile Solutions in Belgium and Galaxy Business Networks in the Netherlands – and edpnet has inherited what COO Joachim Slabbaert describes as ‘a very good MVNO contract with Orange’.

Over in Hungary, local news portal HWSW reports that UPC Hungary stopped selling new mobile products on 1 October, following the telco’s 31 July takeover by Vodafone Group – owner of local player Vodafone Hungary. Since September 2019 UPC and Vodafone have been offering discounts on fixed/mobile bundles instead, ahead of a planned swap-over from UPC to Vodafone branding, which is expected to take place in April 2020. TeleGeography notes that UPC Mobil launched in November 2014 and claimed around 120,000 subscribers as of 30 June 2019.

Meanwhile, the shutdown of Cyta Mobile in Greece has been postponed from 30 September 2019 until 31 October 2019 ‘in order to better serve former Cyta customers’, new owner Vodafone Greece has announced. The move follows the EUR117 million (USD152 million) takeover of Cypriot-owned alternative fixed line and broadband operator Cyta Hellas by Vodafone in July 2018. Cyta Hellas, which launched its Cyta Mobile MVNO service in July 2014, using the network of its now-parent Vodafone Greece network, represented one of the country’s few notable MVNOs.

In an article published by the News Corp Australia Network last month, a pair of the country’s newer MVNO entrants have issued updates regarding their respective subscriber uptake. Pennytel, which targets regional Australia, with a particular focus on the over-50s market, has notched up 10,000 customers since its February 2018 relaunch over the Telstra network. Meanwhile, Moose Mobile, which targets the youth segment with refurbished handsets, has signed up 35,000 users since it launched over the Optus network in May 2017. Moose Mobile chief executive officer Dean Lwin commented: ‘Consumers haven’t heard of these smaller brands, so they don’t trust them, but if you look for deals with no contract term there’s really nothing to lose, except the chance to save some big money.’

US mobile giant Sprint has informed Fierce Wireless that by mid-September its 5G network was made available for MVNO use in Chicago. Going forward, by end-October the cellco expects to have 5G activated for MVNOs in all nine of its operational 5G markets, which also include Los Angeles, New York and Washington, DC.

Kosovo’s telecoms watchdog the Regulatory Authority for Post and Electronic Communications (Autoriteti Rregullator i Komunikimeve Elektronike dhe Postare, ARKEP) has ruled that subscribers to services provided by MVNO Dardafon, which operates under the Z Mobile brand, will be transferred to network host Telecom Kosovo (TK), along with the numbering resources currently assigned to the reseller. The handover is due to take place at the end of a 120-day transition period following TK’s decision in July this year not to renew its MVNO agreement with Z Mobile, with which the state-owned telco is embroiled in a prolonged legal dispute. ARKEP explained its decision, stating that it sought to ensure that customers would not have their service interrupted. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Z Mobile claimed 234,480 subscribers at the end of June 2019, equivalent to around 12.5% of the total mobile market at that date.

Finally, the Danish Energy Agency (DEA, or Energistyrelsen) has approved a request by Lebara Denmark to apply a roaming surcharge to its customers in order to cover any potential losses when its customers roam in the EU. The watchdog cites ‘special and exceptional circumstances’, namely the fact that the MVNO has documented a ‘negative retail roaming profit of more than 3%’ since the rule change. Since 15 June 2017 telecoms companies have not been able to legally charge for roaming in the EU, and consumers therefore pay the same price for using their mobile phone in other EU countries as they do at home.

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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