Sainsbury’s in talks to relaunch “unviable” MVNO

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The Mobile by Sainsbury’s service will officially end on January 15, 2016

Sainsbury’s has opened talks with a number of UK operators as it looks to re-enter the MVNO market.

The supermarket chain partnered with Vodafone in 2013 to launch the debut service, but after signing just 150,000 customers the operator has opted to terminate its agreement.

“Given the performance and prospects of the Mobile by Sainsbury’s business in the prevailing market conditions, the investment required to sustain the Joint Venture is not viable for Vodafone,” said a spokesperson for the operator.

However, Sainsbury’s remains confident it can make a success of the MVNO market, despite its numbers being dwarfed by rival Tesco (on O2 since 2003) which has around four million customers.

A source at Sainsbury’s told Mobile News: “We are in talks to revive the service. We want to provide our customers with the widest available services, and that includes mobile. We felt the partnership with Vodafone was going well and we are determined to make Mobile By Sainsbury’s work.”

Sainsbury’s has also confirmed to Mobile News that the MVNO services will switch off on January 15, 2016 for all prepay and contract customers.

Prepay customers won’t be able to top up from November 14, while Sainsbury’s is yet to decide how it is to reimburse any remaining credit from January 15.

Customers will receive details on the process via text message and email, including advice on how to transfer their mobile numbers.

Any numbers not transferred will be recycled by Ofcom.

New connections to the Mobile By Sainsbury’s service have already been suspended.

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