Africa gets its first dedicated MVNE

Cell C has partnered with Mirage Telecom and Comverse to launch the first “dedicated mobile virtual network enabler” (MVNE) in Africa, as stakeholders begin to push the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) industry forward on the continent.

Currently there are only a handful of MVNOs operating in Africa, including Virgin Mobile in South Africa, K2 Telecom in Uganda, Kirene in Senegal and Samuel Eto’o’s Set’Mobile in Cameroon.

An MVNO is a brand which leverages of a mobile operator’s network, but offers its own pricing and services. Often they are companies with no experience in managing a mobile business and, as such, need support to make it a success.

While South Africa is seen as the most likely African country to be primed for an influx of MVNOs – Cell C alone is expected facilitate at least three more within the next few months – Sebastien Crozier, chief executive officer (CEO) of Orange Horizons has previously described launching there as a “casino gamble”.

The Cell C, Comverse and Mirage Telecom project however has been designed to ease the transition and will use the Comverse MVNE platform, described as having “industry-leading technology”.

Prins Mhlanga, executive director at Mirage Telecom, said: “The MVNO represents the next evolution of mobile in the South African industry, making the launch of Mirage Telecom as Africa’s first MVNE particularly significant.

“South African mobile users will now see new offerings from some of their favourite and most trusted brands. These brands will have the freedom and flexibility to develop unique products and services that resonate directly with the customers they know best.”

The project will see Comverse provide its telecommunications software to Mirage Telecom which can then leverage of Cell C’s wholesale supply to launch new MVNOs in South Africa.

“Cell C’s growth over the last year is testament to our ability to innovate and create real change in the telecommunications market in South Africa,” said Jose Dos Santos, Cell C’s chief commercial officer acting CEO.

“We are pleased to have played an integral role in launching the MVNE model in this country and look forward to it providing a place of innovation for other businesses to thrive.”

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