Dutch mobile virtual operators market grows to 7.3 million lines

Dutch mobile virtual operators market grows to 7.3 million lines

The number of customers at virtual operators in the Netherlands increased 1.9 percent in the six months to September 2011, to a total 7.3 million or 34.5 percent of the total Dutch mobile market. Of the total, 57.6 percent or just under 4.2 million used operator-owned virtual (co-)brands. MVNOs operating independently had just over 3.0 million Sims, or 14.3 percent of the total Dutch mobile market, up slightly from a 13.9 percent market share in Q1 2011. The market remains dominated by around a dozen virtual brands. These are some of the main findings of the semi-annual research conducted by Telecompaper available in the new report “Dutch Mobile Virtual Operators Market – Market Overview third quarter 2011”.

The number of active mobile virtual operators in the Netherlands increased to 62 at the end of Q3 this year, with eight new entrants and three exits compared to Q1 2011. The market is quite crowded but several companies still continue to launch initiatives. The market remains dynamic, also since the end of Q3, with new virtual players entering the market and others still in testing phase. Major introductions up to Q3 included UPC and Ziggo launching mobile data services to their existing customers, Lycamobile launching a third brand Toggle Mobile, three new MVNOs in the business segment, one new ethnic player and one MVNO in the no-frills segment. In terms of acquisitions Youfone acquired the customers of charity-focused MVNO Call4Care, and KPN announced a rebrand of recently acquired MVNO Atlantic Telecom to Telfort Business (from 2012 onwards).

The market is dominated by 11 virtual brands. Hi and Telfort, although losing customers, are the leaders of the operator-owned brands and total VO market, while Lebara and Lycamobile continue to lead the independent MVNO brands. In terms of network operators, KPN has the most VOs on its network, although it has lost some share in recent months. Both Vodafone and T-Mobile increased market share, with T-Mobile increasing the most due to growth at 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.

The Dutch VO market remains vibrant with a total 62 players and more expected to appear. Nevertheless, the economic and regulatory environment will have a negative impact on some of them (particularly the independent MVNOs). 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. Another opportunity for a VO service is targeting an existing customer base, such as recent entrants from the supermarkets sector. Although the market is saturated, there are still opportunities for those who can find a new niche or offer a new concept. “New players 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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