Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa (VMMEA) today announced that the Board of Directors of the Communications and Information Technology Commission of Saudi Arabia (CITC) have approved the grant of a MVNO License to Virgin Mobile Saudi Consortium.
The CITC started the MVNO licence application process in early 2013, and numerous MVNO applicants vied for the privilege of serving the Saudi consumer telecom market. This process has now been concluded with the award of one of the new licenses to the consortium led by VMMEA.
VMMEA already serves over 1 million customers across its five operations, positioning the company as the undisputed leader in the MVNO sector in the Middle East and Africa region. The award of the licence in Saudi Arabia, considered to be the most important regional market, is a significant milestone for VMMEA. The company plans to launch Virgin Mobile operations in other countries in the region and further consolidate its position as the MVNO market leader.
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group commented, “I am delighted that we are able to bring the Virgin Mobile experience to our Saudi Arabian customers. The award of this licence further consolidates our position as the market leading MVNO in the region, positioning Virgin Mobile Middle East and Africa perfectly for future growth. I look forward to hopefully sharing further exciting announcements across the region as we develop the business.
Sir Richard Branson pioneered the MVNO business model in the late 1990s when he launched Virgin Mobile in the United Kingdom. With operations stretching across Europe, Asia, South America, and North America, Virgin Mobile is today the biggest MVNO brand globally, serving close to 20 million customers.
Following the award of the MVNO license in Saudi Arabia, the VMMEA consortium is now poised for the commercial launch in Saudi Arabia that is expected during first half of 2014.
“We have already progressed very far with our preparations for the launch in Saudi Arabia. We have received an enthusiastic welcome with more than 35,000 people providing us with their CV over the past six months to be considered for jobs in Virgin Mobile Saudi Arabia” said Mikkel Vinter, CEO and founder of VMMEA. “We feel very fortunate to experience this level of interest in a new mobile brand before it has even launched, and it shows the strong trust in Virgin Mobile and the excitement in the market about the launch” added Mikkel Vinter.
VMMEA is backed by well-respected global and regional shareholders, including Virgin Group, Gulf Investment Corporation (GIC) and ePlanet Capital.
“We would like to congratulate Virgin Mobile Middle East and Africa and thank the CITC for awarding our consortium an MVNO licence in Saudi Arabia” commented Meshary Al-Judaimi, Division Head Telecoms, Utilities & Financial Services, Gulf Investment Corporation. “We look forward to participating in the Virgin Mobile success story and growing our relationship with Virgin across the region. We see a major opportunity for the Virgin Mobile brand in the Middle East and Africa, and we are confident that the brand is well positioned to bring customers a superb value proposition and customer experience.”
There is consensus among telecom industry analysts that Virgin Mobile brings some unique assets and skills from its experience in global markets, and there is little doubt that customers in Saudi Arabia will see more choice in the mobile telecom market during 2014.
What is an MVNO?
A Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) is a company that provides mobile telephony services to its customers, but does not have its own licence for radio spectrum and doesn’t operate its own mobile network.
The MVNO business model has been successfully introduced in Europe, North America, South America, Asia and Australia. Across these regions, MVNOs are very much an integrated part of the telecommunications market with consumers benefiting from a wider choice of services and mobile operator partners benefitting from many more interesting opportunities to expand their market share and target sub-segments.
During the past 10 years there has been a tremendous growth in the number of MVNOs and, according to the GSM Association, today more than 1200 MVNOs are active globally, serving millions of customers.
Virgin Mobile is one of the early innovators in the MVNO area, with the UK launch in late 1999 being one of the first MVNOs globally. Today nearly 20 million customers are served by Virgin Mobile making this the most successful MVNO globally.
About Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa
Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa (VMMEA) is the holding company for Virgin Mobile’s expansion into the Middle East and Africa region. VMMEA was first formed in 2006 and is headquartered in Dubai Internet City, UAE. VMMEA has established a leading position across the Middle East and Africa region, being the only MVNO in the region with 5 live MVNO operations. Operating as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), VMMEA’s core business activity is to provide mobile telecommunication services to consumers. VMMEA also provides outsourced services to mobile network operators by operating focused brands and mobile packages on their behalf. The VMMEA management team include senior level team members from a variety of successful regional and global mobile operators and MVNOs. The company has a strong financial foundation supported by well-respected and highly experienced global and regional shareholders. The shareholders include: Virgin Group, GIC, ePlanet Capital, Dolphin International, Global IT/Telecom Investors, Millennium Private Equity and members of the senior management team.