Hutchison Whampoa launches wholesale global MVNE venture

Father of Three wants to sire more networks

Dom Joly

Hutchison Whampoa, which owns the Three network in the UK, has launched a global mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) via its mobile wholesale business unit.

It will act as a single point of entry for MVNOs wanting to create global coverage quickly and easily, by accessing Hutchison Whampoa’s networks across Europe and Asia.

MVNE is the bit of the network which companies can go to if they want to set up an MVNO, and typically they're external: EE uses Transatel, while Vodafone prefers Cognatel.

So, a mobile network in one geography might launch an MVNO through Hutchison to allow it to use its brand outside of the places where it has spectrum.

Or, one of the Latin American networks might want to launch across Europe and Asia to sell services to ex-pats.

Another avenue for Hue is the M2M market, where manufacturers of equipment – even static things like ATMs – might not want to have separated agreements with an operator in each of the territories where it sells equipment. The ability to put one SIM in on a production line is thus extremely valuable.

For greenfield MVNOs, Hue’s MVNE platform offers a wide range of services, from mobile network access through to CRM, billing and provisioning. It also has the potential to interface with third-party providers, such as credit-management agencies and logistics partners.

For some MVNOs, however, using Hue’s one-size-fits-all solutions will limit the product offering, and they will want to write their own software.

With BT forecasting a French-style race to the bottom on tariffs, the biggest opportunity is for MVNOs which offer value-added services. One example of this is the new TeleMED Assist, an MVNO aimed at seniors with $1-a-day access to doctors.

Hue is expected to announce partnerships with a number of innovative MVNOs in the coming months.

In the UK, Three has had on on-off relationship with MVNOs, carrying X-Mobility and AQL, but has tended to put onerous restrictions on the offerings, stopping AQL from offering voice.

Since Three has bought more spectrum – notably at 800MHz – the company has more of a hunger to fill its airwaves and an MVNO is a good way to add a substantial number of customers. ®

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