Ethnic MVNO Lycamobile has signed a new MVNO deal with O2, a year after launching in the UK off the Orange network.
Orange claims it will maintain its Lycamobile customer base of 1.2 million, even though the MVNO has indicated that it wishes to follow the business model it set out in the Netherlands, where its Dutch operation launched on T-Mobile but eventually ported its customer base of 1.3 million to Vodafone.
The new partnership with O2 in the UK grants Lycamobile ‘full’ MVNO status, enabling it to operate separately from its parent network ties.
It will allow for simpler number porting, separate billing systems and enable Lycamobile to apply for SIM cards to Ofcom directly in the same way a network operator would. It indicated that its relationship with Orange was more dependent on the network.
Mobile News understands that Lycamobile’s relationship with O2 is designed to promote a new prepay offering in Q4. Sources said it would be difficult for Lycamobile to move customers from Orange to O2 as the networks run off different spectrum.
An Orange spokesperson said: “Orange continues to work with Lycamobile to not only provide network services for their customer base but to deliver new services and opportunities offered through the relationship.
“We have long understood Lycamobile’s desire to run a multi-operator strategy and we welcome the new network to the partnership.”
In the Netherlands, Vodafone had also granted Lycamobile ‘full’ MVNO status. Lycamobile said this would allow it to more efficiently grow its prepay share in this market. Sources said O2 was preparing for an influx of existing Lycamobile customers to enter its UK network from Orange in the same way.
Lycamobile chief executive Milind Kangle (pictured) told Mobile News in April that the company aspired to bring a full MVNO model to all its markets, with its Dutch operation being its first case.
He told Mobile News at the time: “When you’re a full MVNO you have control over your destiny. You can do what you want and develop as many SIMs as you need.”
Kangle said of the new arrangement: “We are delighted to announce the signing of this deal with O2.
“They have demonstrated a dedicated approach to this partnership and our deal will accelerate the success that the Lycamobile brand has already had in the UK.
“Thanks to the technical architecture Lycamobile has developed, we will be providing an enhanced low-cost, high-quality mobile service to our UK customers.”
O2 business sales director Ben Dowd said: “This deal with Lycamobile offers us an exciting opportunity to work in a key growth market with the UK’s leading international MVNO partner.”