Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) have been active in the Spanish market since October 2006. Over sixteen companies already offer their services, while more are announcing their plans to rejoin the MVNO ranks. This ongoing process opens opportunities for both U.S. service providers and equipment manufacturers.
At present, sixteen mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) offer their services to end-users in Spain. They have been able to attract over 500,000 users (about 1 percent of the market), taking advantage of existing number-portability legislation.
According to the Spanish Telecommunications Market Commission, more than 100 companies have requested A2 licenses to allow them to offer MVNO service in the country if they reach an agreement with the network suppliers.
It is estimated that 20-25 companies might take the step forward during the next three years. These companies together are expected to command 10 percent of the market in the next five years.
Currently, the Spanish mobile telephony market has a penetration rate exceeding 111 percent, with 50.6 million active lines as of September 2008. There are four Mobile Network Operators (MNOs); three of which, Telefonica Moviles, Vodafone and Orange are active with both GSM/GPRS networks and UMTS licenses. On the other hand, Xfera Moviles (Yoigo), the fourth network operator, only has a UMTS license. Therefore it is currently providing a significant percentage of services through agreements with Vodafone and Telefonica, while developing its own mobile infrastructure. Recently it has been announced that Yoigo is likely to be sold.
Current MVNO agreements with mobile network operators are as follows: Telefonica Moviles provides support to ONO and Sweno (El Corte Ingles); Orange provides support to Happy Movil (The Phone House), Carrefour Movil, Dia Movil, Euphony, Icall, Istmo, Jazztel, Masmovil and Symio (KPN) whilst Vodafone supports Euskaltel, R Movil, Telecable, Pepephone (Globalia), Metrored Movil, Lebara Mobile and Eroski Mobile. Symio is a Virtual Mobile Network Enabler in the Spanish market, a role that is also expected to be adopted by Lycatel in 2009.
As mentioned, a number of companies have announced their intention to offer MVNO services in the Spanish market, such as Lycatel, Orbitel and Hits Telecom, while others still need to reach agreement with network providers. Among them we can find retailers (such as Alcampo), telecom service providers (Colt Telecom), Internet Service Providers (Sarenet), utilities (Iberdrola / NeoSky), and broadcasters (Cope, Kiss FM). A key element for the development of the MVNO’s in Spain is the current legislation on mobile number portability.
In 2008, it is estimated that four million mobile users will change service providers while maintaining their personal mobile numbers. The Spanish Telecommunication Market Commission is modifying the regulation to further facilitate this process.
By Jesus Garcia