Dubai-based mobile phone retailer and distributor Axiom says that it is over half way towards being ready to launch as a mobile virtual network operator in the Middle East.
Axiom CEO Faisal Al Bannai said the retailer has developed “60% of the setup and proposition required to launch an MVNO operation”, with the rest to be finalised depending on the type of deal that is signed with a host operator.
Mobile virtual networks (MVNOs) agree wholesale deals with network operators to use their infrastructure before reselling the services, usually to niche segments of the market that incumbent operators may not have targeted.
Al Bannai said that the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were the three markets in the Middle East that were most attractive to Axiom, and that talks were taking place with unnamed operators in the countries.
“Our position today is that we are having discussions and we are looking at business models together, and gradually we are talking with these operators, which means we could launch three months from today, or we could launch a year from today. The only decision is, is there a good balance in the commercials,” Al Bannai told CommsMEA.
The Middle East’s first ever MVNO, Friendi, launched in Oman last week. It was followed by rival Renna which launched in the Sultanate yesterday.
The MVNOs that launched in Oman required licenses that were issued by the country’s telecom regulator.
However, Al Bannai said that regulatory hurdles only affected “fully fledged MVNOs” and could be overcome by offering a more basic service.
“You can always launch as a branded reseller,” he told CommsMEA. “For example, the Sim card may be fully branded but there can be some footnote somewhere that says it is powered by whoever the host operator is. The regulator cannot stop today, for example, Etisalat launching a Nike Sim,” he said.For all the latest tech news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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