5/13/2009 11:04:00 AM
Where is the next MVNO success?
If you were wondering what happened to the expectation of a Sainsbury’s own brand virtual network, don’t ask me. The promise was great, and it has been ‘imminent’ for over a year, but it has failed to materialise. Sainsbury’s own brand mobile network appears to have been stifled amid finding a proposition that chimes with its customers, bigger priorities at the supermarket and ‘the economy’.
Interest from operators to act as a wholesale partner is certainly not one of the obstacles. Relentless growth for Tesco at one end, and Lebara Mobile and Lyca at the other has whipped up considerable appetite from the networks to sign up more wholesale deals. It marks a complete reversal of the suspicion towards MVNOs from the main operators a few years ago.
Orange and Vodafone have seen MVNO wholesale represent growth engines over the last year, and 3 now wants a slice of the cake too. Lebara and Lyca are ripping lumps out of each other in the booming ethnic/overseas calling market, which is still growing. The search for the next MVNO success is the holy grail for operators as their core businesses are flattening or declining.
The supermarket sector is undoubtedly one area. Taking the Lebara/Lyca format with more precise targeting of a specific ethnic group, say the Polish market, is also being talked about. There is also a possibility of reviving the EasyMobile low-cost, web-based format, in the belief that it was the right model but at the wrong time. Despite the saturation in the market, there is belief that there is room for more good MVNO ideas, executed well and with strong distribution routes. Over to you, Sainsbury’s.