According to a report in the City Press today (30 June 2013), industry insiders have confirmed that Cell C is in discussion with “up to 15 companies” who are interested in launching an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator). Cell C is reportedly setting up an MVNE (Mobile Virtual Network Enabler) to aid this process.
Cell C spokesperson Vinnie Santu confirmed to City Press that the company is in talks with potential MVNOs and these talks are confidential.
French telecoms operator Orange has previously expressed interest in setting up as an MVNO in South Africa, but says the SA regulatory environment is unfavourable. When asked about Cell C’s MVNE platform, Orange’s Sebastien Crozier (CEO, Orange Horizons) told City Press that this still doesn’t provide everything a true MVNO would need.
Crozier said that Orange had approached all four of SA’s mobile network operators regarding MVNO setup, and had met with ICASA to inform them of its intention and to argue for better regulation of the MVNO space. Crozier said that ICASA needs to implement regulations that establish the rules for competition in the MVNO space.
“We told ICASA we will not enter until the regulations serve our interests. We’re not in a hurry. We want to come in to South Africa as a full MVNO and innovate and offer our customers new services,” said Crozier.
According to City Press sources, ICASA would have to force all network operators to allow MVNOs and enforce network access at wholesale prices. Vodacom and MTN are not very welcoming of MVNOs, while Cell C is open for business, reports the City Press.
ICASA spokesperson Paseka Maleka told City Press that “Orange wants regulated access to South African operator’s network infrastructure, something ICASA has not yet considered.”
“As and when the need and resources are identified, the authority will consider future regulatory interventions with the goal of enhancing social welfare,” said Maleka.