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.
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