Wednesday, November 25, 2009

the UK MVNO business

The total UK wholesale market is estimated to be worth £1 billion, and is predicted to jump to £2 billion by 2012. T-Mobile takes around 60 per cent of the market via its Virgin Mobile MVNO deal.

Vodafone has 17 per cent via BT Mobile, Asda Mobile, Talk Mobile, Lyca rival Lebara Mobile and TomTom.

It also takes incremental revenue from Nomi Mobile, which runs off BT Mobile.

O2 has around 17 per cent too, via its Tesco Mobile MVNO, which is closing on two million customers.

Orange lags behind. Its management team, led by Virgin Mobile co-founder Tom Alexander, is understood to be keen on wholesale. It works with IDT Mobile and ad-funded MVNO Blyk.

Negotiations with Orange are likely to put Lycamobile's scheduled August launch back.

Meanwhile Nowtel, the UK's number two calling card business, is preparing its own UK MVNO bid. source

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As an MVNO, Tesco has a fairly free hand regarding the the markets it goes after. O2 says it has sold over one million iPhones since September 2007

Setting up an MVNO

The process for establishing an MVNO depends on what services the MNO is supplying to the MVNO and is a commercial matter between those two parties. There are no specific MVNO-related Ofcom specific telecoms regulatory requirements beyond those in the published General Conditions of Entitlement which can be found on our website at

The licences that an MVNO would need to operate within the UK will depend on the exact nature of the business including whether or not spectrum is used. Ofcom does not require notification before electronic communications networks and services can be operated in the UK.

As always with these issues we would advise you to seek your own legal advice as to what your regulatory obligations would be.

A list of all major MVNOs can be found in our extended overview of the UK MVNO sector in the telecoms section of the February 2006 Interim Communications Market Report, available at


United Kingdom(UK)BT Mobile HomeGSM T-Mobile
United Kingdom(UK)Dot-MobileGSM Vodafone Student-focused ESP offering low prices and SMS and minute bundles, or "units".
United Kingdom(UK)Easy MobileGSM T-Mobile ESP launched in March 2005
United Kingdom(UK)ExtremeMobGSM Vodafone A combination of stylish handsets, value for money tariffs and a 24/7 customer call centre will make ExtremeMob stand out in the mobile sector.
United Kingdom(UK)FreshGSM T-Mobile Pre-paid MVNO venture of Carphone Warehouse and Value Telecom.
United Kingdom(UK)Intercity Mobile CommunicationsGSM
United Kingdom(UK)Mobile WorldGSM T-Mobile Pre-paid MVNO venture of Carphone Warehouse launched in April 2005.
United Kingdom(UK)Kingston CommunicationsGSM O2 MVNO launched in 2000
United Kingdom(UK)One.TelGSM Vodafone
United Kingdom(UK)Project TelecomGSM Vodafone Business service provider, acquired by Vodafone in 2003
United Kingdom(UK)Rok TelecomGSM T-Mobile
United Kingdom(UK)Sainsburys TelecomGSM O2 Service provider, partnership with Carphone Warehouse and O2
United Kingdom(UK)Singlepoint LimitedGSM Vodafone Service provider launched in 1997, acquired by Vodafone in 2003
United Kingdom(UK)Tesco MobileGSM O2 MVNO launched in September 2003
United Kingdom(UK)Toucan MobileGSM T-Mobile Postpaid MVNO for Toucan, telecoms company IDT Europe's consumer telephony brand - launching later in 2005
United Kingdom(UK)Virgin MobileGSM T-Mobile Famous MVNO, launched November 1999 and recently announced over 5 million customers.
United Kingdom(UK)Yes TelecomGSM Vodafone

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