Czech Republic: Relative reality – Tesco Mobile is refreshing its branding and using testimonials. Tesco wants to play up the help it gives to real people in real situations, said Branko Gugleta, marketing director at Tesco Mobile. On 26 February it launched what were described as the most favourable call rates. It provides free calls and SMS on the Tesco Mobile network for families and groups of friends. Calls to other networks costs CZK 1.25 per minute and SMS cost CZK 0.75. The rates are applicable with a Tesco ClubCard.

Kenya: New twist on mobile banking – Africa remains relatively poorly served by MVNOs, but The Equity Bank of Kenya is now reported to have applied to the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) for a licence. The Daily Nation reports the bank is looking to become a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO). CCK director general Francis Wangusi told the newspaper that the application is currently with the National Intelligence Service (NIS) which will evaluate it for security concerns before the final decision is made. The Esser-owned yuMobile network is thought to be the likely host MNO, although there are suggestions that Esser may be the target of fellow Indian operator Airtel as the latter looks to gain share in a market dominated by Safaricom.

Mexico: MVNO migration – The first 600,000 of Iusacell’s pre-paid subscribers onto Elephant Talk’s (ET) dedicated platform. ET provides Software Defined Network Architecture (‘Software DNA 2.0’) platforms and cyber security solutions, and anticipates ‘significant’ additional migrations throughout March and during 2Q13. Adrian Steckel, CEO of Iusacell, said it was ‘pleased’ to have completed the first phase of the migration program, which he says will see ‘millions of existing pre-paid customers, post-paid customers and MVNOs transitioned to the new platform over the next quarter’. By the end of 2014, it excepts to have migrated to over eight million users to the Elephant Talk platform.

Mexico: Proven partner – Virgin Mobile has started its roll-out in Mexico, having already launched in Chile and Colombia. Virgin Mobile has chosen I-New as its technology partner, utilising the ‘MVNO-in-a-Box’ platform, and is the third time Virgin Mobile has used it.

Netherlands: Fresh funding – How do you raise funding for your venture if you don’t want to go to the banks? Crowdsourcing has already been used with great success for a number of ventures, such as the revival of classic computer games which have a strong fan base but which might struggle to produce a classic business plan to convince the more traditional sources of funding. Dutch-startup CrowdFone has given itself just 32-days to raise the EUR 200,000 to launch as an MVNO. According to, it is sourcing the cash via Indiegogo, with a launch at the end of second quarter 2014. CrowdFone founder Paul Coerkamp is from the oil industry, but project managed the deployment of the Lebara MVNO in Saudi Arabia. Co-founder Hans Smeets also worked on the Lebara project as well as for GSM specialist Radio Access and the late Dutch MVNO 6GMobile.

Russia: Minor milestone – The Digit Website reports Mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Svyaznoy Mobile as having clocked-up 250,000 subscribers. The MVNO is owned by mobile retailer Svyaznoy and operates on Mobile TeleSystems’ (MTS) network.

Spain: Rising users – Jazz Telecom (Jazztel) has seen a 15% rise in turnover in the year ending 31 December 2013, it has announced. It generated an annual total turnover of EUR 1.044 billion, up from the EUR 908 million it recorded in FY2012. At the end of 2013 Jazztel had a broadband subscriber base of 1.449 million, up from 1.339 million a year earlier. It offers mobile voice access as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), and at the end of 2013 it had 1.165 million mobile customers, up from 343,240 a year earlier.

Thailand: Billing break – The Bangkok Post reports CAT Telecom as saying it will delay the commercial launch of its MVNO 3G service offering for six months. Chief Executive Officer Kittisak Sriprasert said it had had problems with its pre-paid billing system. The Post noted that CAT signed a 12-year contract with 365 Communication Co in November 2013 to help the government provide 3G service on the state’s 850-megahertz spectrum using the MVNO model. Under the 12-year deal, CAT is mandated to sell 50,000 mobile numbers to 365 Communication at a wholesale price. The company must place a guarantee payment for the purchase of each airtime allocation. The intention is to serve new MVNOs who have been granted a type 1 licence from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission and want to participate in CAT’s 3G MVNO network.

UK: Virgin to Viacloud – Former co-founder and Deputy MD of Virgin Mobile, Joe Steel, has been appointed as CEO of Viacloud UK. Steel has worked with various members of the Viacloud team and was involved in the launch of the Virgin MVNO. Former CEO, Emanuele Angelidis, is reported to have recently stepped down for personal reasons unrelated to the business.

USA: iPhone implementation – Ting, the Sprint MVNO owned by Tucows, is to offer Apple’s iPhone 5, joining the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. Ting’s network deal precludes it from offering the latest devices. Ting offers no-contract deals and lower monthly costs for individuals and groups. The company also offers online tools for monitoring and managing mobile phone usage. According to the Mac Observer, the announcement will be made next week.

MVNO news in summary week ending 28 February 2014