Unicom debuts as Orange MVNO


Fixed line provider Unicom is to launch a B2B MVNO, running off the Orange network. Unicom has struck the deal to offer Unicom-branded SIM deals via Transatel, Orange’s mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) partner.

Unicom is to offer its 75,000 customers a number of SIM-only deals, including a flat-rate per-minute tariff and various call bundles.

Final commercial offerings are being finalised. It is expected to launch a number of mobile broadband deals also.

Unicom expects to build relationships with a number of handset distribution companies to provide SIM-only handsets. It has not ruled out subsidising devices with airtime deals.

Unicom pursued an MVNO deal for most of 2009 to offer customers all communications on a single bill. It also offers fixed line, web hosting, broadband, data storage and directory enquiries.

Previous discussions with Vodafone, O2 and T-Mobile, as well as Orange itself and B2B MVNO Gamma Telecom, which piggybacks on 3, came to nothing as operators preferred bigger consumer brand partners.
Orange’s partnership with Transatel, signed in October, reignited interest.

Unicom operations director Chris Earle (pictured) said: “We had struggled to get the MNOs interested. What they had wasn’t really suited to us and we had just about given up. But when Transatel approached us, through conversations with Orange, it worked really well.”

Unicom systems development manager Mark Draper added: “We will initially be offering it to our existing customer base and then look to extend it out to new customers. We want to walk before we run.”

Transatel claims to be able to launch an MVNO brand in six weeks. It aims to have launched 20 MVNOs by the end of 2011. It is the second UK MVNE, following 3 agent X-Mobility, which aims to launch 30 MVNOs in the next 12 months.