28 Nov 2008

MNOs aim to retain migrant worker customers via overseas MVNOs

The ever-indispensable Global Mobile Daily reminded me yesterday that Suriname's incumbent telco Telesur (most of whose top management team I've had the pleasure of meeting at previous interactions of our Americas Com event in Rio) has launched a prepaid MVNO in the Netherlands. This is a move to retain the business of around 330,000 ex-pat Surinamese living and working in Holland. The MVNO will work in partnership with retail chains Kruidvat and Trekpleister for distribution of its mobile services. The service will be enabled by MVNE Teleena.

This model is not new - MVNOs aimed at specific ethnic segments or specific groups of migrant workers. Also tried and tested is the idea of the dominant mobile player from one country seeking to monetise its natural ability to market services to fellow countrymen who happen to be located abroad. A case which interests me is that of the German MVNO mobi gsm, an offering of Millenicom, a company owned by European Telecommunication Holding, part of the Çukurova Group, controllers of Turkey's leading MNO Turkcell.

Turkcell, along with competitors Vodafone and Avea, must now decide on how to approach the matter of MVNOs going to market on its home turf. Along with MNP and 3G services finally becoming a reality in 2009, MVNOs are one of the hotter topics of discussionon the Turkish telecoms scene, which is why the subject will get extended coverage at our Eurasia Com conference in Istanbul, 31 March & 1 April. Two companies looking to get involved as MVNEs will be represented on the panel of speakers - handset/SIM retailer Vegatel and the Turkish arm of pan-European MVNE/MVNO Effortel. In the last couple of days I've also heard from Jacques Bonifay, CEO of Transatel, another cross-border MVNO and MVNE. I'm pleased to report that developments in Turkey seem to have picqued Jacques' interest enough to make the trip down to Istanbul and join the discussions.

To ensure that no one present can possibly fail to go away armed with lots of useful insights on MVNO/MVNE and HNO (host network operator) business models, we have arranged for MVNO guru Alex Bessen to offer a compelling, co-located workshop at the event, offering case studies and practical guidance.