The UK market for virtual mobile operators is lagging behind developments in Scandinavia and central Europe, according to mobile consultant John Strand. But he says 2008 will see major changes as Britain catches up with the Continental scene.
‘I think the MVNO market in the UK will catch up with the evolution we’ve seen in Denmark, Norway, Germany, Belgium and Holland, and I think we will see an explosion of MVNOs in the UK market,' Strand told Mobile.
‘I expect all the major supermarkets to have their own MVNO brands during the next year, and the operators will be friendlier to the market in 2008 and we will see in particular one new player moving into the space, and that is 3. They will tell broadband providers that customers need a mobile broadband solution.
2007 saw much promise in the MVNO market place; with ad-funded, youth-focussed MVNO Blyk arriving in September, and Lebara, aimed at ethnic customers, launched at the end of the year. Tesco Mobile also passed the 2 million customer mark, and Asda’s virtual network racked up 100,000 customers and set itself the target of growing to 1 million customers.
‘I think that we will see that 3 will move into this market and they will encourage new and existing MVNOs and new broadband providers to go out and sell mobile broadband using 3’s networks,' predicted Strand.
‘In future you’ll have fixed broadband at home and a mobile broadband solution on the move, or mobile broadband at home combined with a WiFi access point at home.
‘As for Blyk – it looks like mission impossible. Even this week a company with roughly the same concept went bankrupt in Norway. In the US XE Mobile, which basically had a concept that was very close to what Blyk had, went out of business this year.’