Dutch mobile virtual operators market grows by 2.1% to 7.5 mln subscribers

Dutch mobile virtual operators market grows by 2.1% to 7.5 mln subscribers

The number of mobile virtual operator-enabled customers in the Netherlands increased 2.1 percent over the six months to March 2012, to a total 7.5 million or 35.9 percent of the Dutch mobile market. Of the total, 57.7 percent or 4.3 million customers used virtual brands (co-)owned by the mobile network operators. The independent MVNO market counted 3.2 million SIMs, or 15.2 percent of the total Dutch mobile market, versus 14.5 percent in Q3 2011. The market is dominated by 11 virtual brands, which were almost unchanged compared to six months ago, although the ranking of these 11 players did change somewhat. These are some of the main findings of the semi-annual MVNO research conducted by Telecompaper and available in the new report “Dutch Mobile Virtual Operators Market – Market Overview first quarter 2012”.

The number of active mobile virtual operators in the Netherlands increased to 67 at the end of Q1 this year, with three new entrants, three exits and the addition of four new companies compared to Q3 2011. The market remians quite crowded but several companies still continue to launch initiatives. Major changes up to Q1 included PostNL Mobiel, a new prepaid no-frills offer targeted at the post office’s client base, and two new ethnic-focused brands, NLD Mobiel and Delight Mobile. Exits included Citytel Prepaid and Norea Mobile, and Ecofoon was acquired by SpeakUp. From April 2012 changes continued with Yiggers Mobile, Mobilized06, Stunt Mobiel and Hyves Mobiel ceasing mobile services and MVNE 6GMobile filing for bankruptcy. In addition, two new MVNO brands were launched, Bliep and Delta Mobiel, and Voiceworks announced a start to services in September 2012.

Hi and Telfort, although losing customers, were the leaders of the operator-owned brands and total VO market. Lebara and Lycamobile remained the leaders of the independent MVNO brands. In terms of network operator usage, KPN carries the most MVNOs, although it has lost some market share. Both Vodafone and T-Mobile increased market share, with T-Mobile growing the most due to customer growth at Tele2, Simpel and Ben. While MVNEs share benefits of scale, enabling more VOs to enter the market, the majority of VOs are run directly with/by the MNOs. However, new VOs mostly use MVNEs to enter the market.

While the Dutch VO market remains crowded, more players are expected to appear. The difficult economic climate and regulatory environment will continue to have a negative impact on some of them, particularly the independent MVNOs that only offer basic mobile services and depend on mobile as their main source of income. Some VOs may turn this into a positive effect if they can distinguish themselves by offering better and value-added deals. The Dutch mobile market is quite saturated, so growth has to come from churn at other competitors and by either finding an untapped niche or introducing new, value-adding services. Offering just a ‘me-too’ service is in the current climate not a suitable strategy. Another opportunity for a VO service is targeting an existing customer base and offering the service as an add-on. “New independent MVNOs will have to differentiate themselves by offering real value-added services, and not just plain voice and SMS services, in order to survive,’’ said Alejandra van de Roer, senior analyst at Telecompaper and co-author of the report.

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