New MVNO sets out launch plans - TechCentral

New MVNO sets out launch plans

Brett Howell

Brett Howell

A new mobile virtual network operator is set to make its debut in South Africa in early May. Me&you mobile will be launched on 4 May by Durban-based Ignition Group.

Piggybacking on Cell C’s infrastructure, me&you mobile intends offering a Sim-only service to clients with competitive voice and data rates. Call rates will start at just 39c/minute, while data rates will be “competitively priced”.

Its platform is being provided by MVN-X, an Ignition Group subsidiary that also provides service to MRP Mobile, the MVNO in the Mr Price stable. MVN-X is headed by former Virgin Mobile South Africa CEO Steve Bailey.

MVNOs leverage third-party operators’ network infrastructure to provide services to consumers under their own brands. Only Cell C has shown an interest in opening its network to MVNOs.

Me&you mobile is headed by Brett Howell, whose background is in marketing — he was previously a trade marketing product manager at South African Breweries.

The company is expected to take the wraps off its plans to the media on Thursday.

Howell tells TechCentral that me&you mobile is targeted at a niche market of customers in the higher living standards measures who don’t want to be tied into 24-month contracts, but who still want flexibility that can’t be offered by prepaid.

The company will offer more of a hybrid model, where customers are billed month to month.

The company has no intention of subsidising or even selling handsets, but will direct customers to partners who do if they require a device. The names of these partners will be disclosed after launch, says Howell.

The brand will operate entirely online. Customers wanting a Sim will place an order on the me&you website using their credit card. The Sim will then be delivered to them for a small fee. There’s a R29 Sim and connection charge, too.

Howell says me&you mobile is targeting between 15 000 and 25 000 customers in its first year.

“We’ve built the business model around a modest forecast. We don’t need to get numbers in the millions.”

The company has secured its own “access point names” from Cell C, meaning customers will see me&you’s branding and not Cell C’s on their phones when they insert their Sims.

Howell says he is confident Cell C’s network quality will ensure customers won’t be disappointed. He says he has been using the network for months during the testing phase for the MVNO without any issues. Cell C has previously had congestion issues, especially in Gauteng, but the company says these have since been addressed.

Steve Bailey

Steve Bailey

Last year, MVN-X’s Bailey told TechCentral that the cellular market in South Africa is worth about R100bn/year.

“It’s a big market, and there are a number of niche opportunities where operators can’t necessarily serve customers as well as an MVNO could,” he said.

According to Bailey, a number of South African banks have also shown “considerable interest” in launching MVNOs. “We have a pipeline of potential MVNOs,” he said at the time.

First National Bank is said to be at an advanced stage of preparation to launch an MVNO, also using Cell C as its infrastructure partner.  — © 2015 NewsCentral Media


  1. Pigbacking on Cell C!? And Cell C is on Vodacom? I was a full 2 months on Cell C before I realized that I actually need a “signal” to make phone calls. How bad signal service will this network have if it pigbacks off CellC? I can only imagine….

  2. And the data speed is getting worse, when you call you are told they cant help the network it might be congested….. uh that does not help us fix it! now they going to add more congestion ??

  3. Ofentse Letsholo on

    It may depends where you live, in my case Cell C is the best everywhere and have even fixed network congestion(s) i’ve reported in 24hrs. All network operators have kak coverage somewhere like with me to find MTN H+ it’s a luxury as i find EDGE “everywhere you go” and i’ve only seen EDGE twice since i’ve joined Cell C over a year ago. And yes they have improved their signal throughput massively that it’s stable, Cell C is worth my every cent now than MTN which will blame your device no matter how new it is when you report that their network is at fault.

  4. Gilbert Mathedimosa on

    Cellc is not piggy backing on Vodacom, that was ended a long time ago…Even then, their network was better than what it is now. Remember the claims that they will build the strongest network in the Southern Hemisphere? Well they spent billions on new base stations but no one sees the results. I too had to end my contracts on the basis that i would need a miracle to get decent coverage to make calls. Me&you made a decision to partner with the most unreliable network in South Africa (Maybe they got a sweet deal, i dont know) and that will ultimately be their downfall. CellC cant do nothing for customers, whats going to happen to Me&you because when something goes wrong on one end, it will affect the other? Or maybe, just maybe…Me&you will have better reception than CellC? (Highly unlikely, but voodoo exists). It remains to be seen. In the meantime. Stay on prepaid and buy a truckload of airtime. No service provider in SA is better and deserves your hard earned cash.

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