Vodacom network open to MVNOs

Vodacom is in talks with companies that want to launch MVNOs on the company’s mobile network, reports the Sunday Times.

Vodacom MD Sitho Mdlalose said the network provider is “open for business” with MVNOs to fulfil obligations that form part of its recently-acquired spectrum licence.

“Already, we are in discussions with a number of interested parties across a range of industries and will make announcements in due course,” said Mdlalose.

The company plans to launch its mobile virtual network enablement platform next year, which would support the operation of MVNOs on its mobile network.

It would see Vodacom join MTN and Cell C, which have already opened their networks to third-party virtual network operators.

Shameel Joosub
Shameel Joosub, Vodacom CEO

Vodacom had spoken about launching its MVNO platform since late 2020, when it told TechCentral that it was actively building the capability and hoped to launch it soon after Icasa’s spectrum auction.

“We will have an MVNE (mobile virtual network enablement) platform available, and we will have services to support them,” said Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub.

“It shouldn’t take too long. Hopefully, after the spectrum auction, we’ll be ready to launch. Already, if you want to be an MVNO, you are welcome to approach us.”

Sunday Times reported that Vodacom’s support for MVNOs was also motivated by being required to support at least three MVNOs on its network as part of its new spectrum licence.

Historically, these MVNOs have been operated by leading local banks, retailers, and ISPs — with the likes of Standard Bank, FNB, Pick n Pay, Shoprite, Afrihost, and Axxess all already providing MVNO services through Cell C and MTN.

Vodacom profit drops

Vodacom recently reported a 9% decline in half-yearly net profit compared to the same period last year — dropping from R8.9 billion to R8.1 billion.

Operating profits were also down by 5.6% from R14.1 billion to R13.3 billion.

Vodacom attributed these drops to market volatility and weaker global economic prospects — partly due to the war in Ukraine.

The network operator also had to invest R5.8 billion into its South African network — the most in a six-month period — to improve customer experience amid increased load-shedding.

However, there was also good news: Group revenue rose by 7.7% year-on-year, supported by rand depreciation against Vodacom’s basket of international currencies.

Group service revenue also increased by 7.2%, while its “super app”, VodaPay, has amassed 2.2 million registered users and 3.5 million downloads.

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Vodacom network open to MVNOs