Former Virgin Mobile South Africa boss Steve Bailey has launched a new mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) business to help bring mobile virtual network operators, or MVNOs, to market — and he already has a large, well-known South African retailer lined up for launch in the next few weeks.
The retailer, which Bailey declines to name ahead of the official launch, will be only the second MVNO in South Africa after Virgin Mobile. Red Bull Mobile is often incorrectly labelled as an MVNO, but is in fact simply a brand licensee, with everything managed by Cell C.
An MVNO uses the wireless network infrastructure provided by a mobile operator partner, offering its own products and services, including billing and fulfilment, on top of that network. Until now, Virgin Mobile — which uses Cell C’s network — has been the only MVNO in South Africa. It was founded in 2006, with Cell C as a 50% shareholder and Richard Branson’s Virgin Group holding the remaining 50%. Cell C has since sold its stake.
Bailey’s new business, which is owned by the Durban-based Ignition Group — where he is CEO of the telecommunications unit — is called MVN-X. It also leverages Cell C’s network. It intends providing a full range of MVNE services to virtual operators. It has developed complex billing and customer relationship management systems.
In addition, the company provides an inbound call centre, along with procurement and logistics facilities.
Bailey says 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. 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 says.
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. — © 2014 NewsCentral Media