Just two months after Mr Price announced that it would be South Africa’s second mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) after Virgin Mobile, another company has announced plans to venture into the MVNO space.
Cape Town-based Smart Mobile, which specialises in providing cellular services and handsets to the emerging post-paid market in South Africa, will launch an MVNO through MVN-X, the same company providing services to Mr Price for MRP Mobile.
MVNOs leverage third-party operators’ network infrastructure to provide services to consumers under their own brands.
Former Virgin Mobile boss Steve Bailey, who played a key role in the launch of MRP Mobile through MVN-X, has emerged as a key figure in the launch of this latest MVNO, which piggybacks off Cell C’s network.
Until recently, Virgin Mobile — which also uses Cell C’s network — has had the MVNO space to itself. Although popular in the US, Europe and Asia, MVNOs have not taken off in South Africa until now.
Bailey told TechCentral on Monday that he expects Smart Mobile to begin offering MVNO services to its clients in the first quarter of 2015.
“Smart mobile has been in operation for 10 years and has signed over 500 000 contract subscribers across the various networks in this period,” Bailey said.
The company is run by CEO Andre Geboers. It has signed a deal with MVN-X to build and provide the required billing and customer relationship management platforms, and to provide integration into the host network, Cell C.
In May, 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. “We provide all the necessary infrastructure and platforms to allow MVNOs to launch at a fraction of the cost of doing it themselves, and to launch quickly.”
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.
Bailey ran Virgin Mobile in South Africa for four years, before leaving in 2012 for a short stint at a telecoms operator in Nigeria. He then joined Ignition Group and began work on the MVN-X business in 2013. — (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media