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Ad-funded mobile carrier goes titsup

UK's OVIVO pulls the plug very suddenly

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OVIVO, a mobile virtual network operator that did not charge for calls, SMS or data, has suddenly closed its doors.

The carrier has pulled down almost all of its site, save for a home page stating “We are very sad to announce that for reasons beyond our control, OVIVO Mobile is closing down on the evening of Wednesday 19th March 2014.”

A form allows acquisition of a PAC code for those who would like to keep their phone numbers.

OVIVO's offers, as visible in the Internet Archive, included the “Freedom0” plan that gave subscribers 300 minutes of voice calls, 300 TXT messages and 500MB of data each month, for no ongoing cost. New subscribers did have to pay £20 for the privilege, £5 of which immediately went in administration fees. The remainder was retained as credit in case subscribers exceeded their monthly allowances.

That keen pricing was made possible by an advertising deal that meant subscribers would “... occasionally be taken to OVIVO Now! – our portal with the latest information about your allowance and our service. You’ll also discover some adverts from our sponsors.” These interruptions were billed as “.... a bit like an advertisement break on the TV, or in a magazine.”

There's no word on just what “reasons beyond our control” caused OVIVO's demise, and few hints to be had thanks to the swift closure of the company's social media presences.

What is known about the company is that it used Vodafone UK's network, but bought access through Cognatel, and last year scooped £440,000 from crowdsourcing site Crowdcube. The company's Crowdcube page says it planned to be acquired in 2015, probably by “Larger Telecommunication Operators as it is easier to for them to acquire than to replicate.”

“It is therefore expected that likely acquirers will be either larger global operators or global M-Commerce brands who are keen to truly enter the mobile space, beyond simple applications on devices.”

The service's sudden shuttering suggests that neat plan has not come about. Investors seem to have sunk over a million pounds into the company since its 2012 founding. There's no word on their prospects for recovery. ®

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