Lycamobile, the fast-growing European MVNO business of market leading calling card company Lycatel, is in talks with network operators about an imminent UK launch.
It has held talks with T-Mobile and O2 about a full MVNO offering to the ethnic market in the UK, although both networks maintained last week nothing had been signed.
Orange has also been approached, although its MVNO agreement with IDT Mobile in the UK ethnic market is thought to preclude a deal.
Dextra is already in place to distribute prepay SIM cards to specialist and non-specialist sales channels.
Lycatel chief executive Milind Kangle said: “We are very close to launch. It will be the biggest launch the UK has seen in this sector. It is near and dear to our hearts. It is our home market.”
Kangle said, based on Lycamobile’s first-year run rates in the Dutch and Belgian markets, it expects to sign 750,000 subscribers within a year of launching in the UK. But a network deal remains some way off yet.
Vodafone, which already has an MVNO partnership in the UK ethnic market with Lebara Mobile, discounted itself outright. 3 said it had not held talks. T-Mobile, with which Lycamobile already works in Holland, admitted to talks but said a contract had not been signed.
A T-Mobile spokesman said: “It made sense to explore opportunities in the UK. No agreement was reached. The nature of exploratory talks with potential partners is, of course, commercially confidential.”
O2 also denied a deal had been done, although Mobile News understands preliminary talks about a tie-up have taken place. However, Kangle remains confident of a deal soon, and even suggested Lycamobile way work with multiple network providers in single markets in the future.
He said: “The mobile community in Europe has seen our success. And we have greater confidence in each new market we enter that there will be at least a couple of operators that will compete for winning the Lycamobile contract.
“As Lycamobile keeps growing there will be multiple hosts in each country that will host the Lycamobile brand.”
Lycamobile calculates the potential UK ethnic market for mobile to be up to 10 million subscribers. Kangle said: “There’s room for one big player in this market, with 60 or 70 per cent market share. The rest will be marginal players. Whoever wants to play in it has to be serious about the funding.”