Another TOT MVNO hangs up
- January 28, 2017
- Posted by: Allan Rasmussen
- Categories: MVNA-MVNE-MVNO, Thai Telecom
Another MVNO hangs up in Thailand
Mojo, who provided 3G MVNO service under the brand name Mojo3G, has ended its resell agreement with TOT, becoming the fourth MVNO out of five, to cease MVNO operation on the state enterprise.
MOJO3G launched its MVNO service commercially in March 2010 with 200+ distribution outlets through its strategic partner Jay Mart. Although its voice and SMS service was available nationwide through national roaming with AIS, the host operator’s 3G service coverage was limited to greater Bangkok.
According to an agenda memo from a meeting at the national telecoms and broadcasting regulator (NBTC) on 17-01-2017, TOT requested guidelines from the NBTC, to suspend the service with MCONZULT ASIA Co., Ltd the MVNO licensee behind Mojo3G, on grounds that MCONZULT ASIA has defaulted on payments to TOT since early 2015.
However, Section 20 of the Telecommunications Act of 2001 stipulates that the licensee shall not suspend or terminate the service, in whole or in part, unless permitted by the Commission under the criteria and procedures prescribed by the Commission.
If the licensee has to suspend or stop the service, it has to notify the NBTC in advance and provide a plan with measures to mitigate the users. However, in this case MCONZULT ASIA, which is the MVNO license holder, still had not submitted such a plan to the office of the NBTC at the time of the meeting.
In order to protect the consumers it was suggested that customers, who would want to continue using the 2100MHz 3G network of TOT, could voluntarily transfer to TOT, and that the MVNO must inform the customers on the suspension of the service in order for the customers to cancel the service, obtain remaining funds back in full etc.
Mojo3G is now announcing to its customers on its website, that they can use the service until their balance is used up, and in case they would like to continue to use the service on TOT’s 3G network, TOT PLC will take over the services with special promotion.
Turned into a Norwegian soap opera
Mojo3G has had more than its fair share of struggles, not only with the delayed, and limited coverage of its host operator but also among its investors.
Norwegian investor Idar Vollvik, who bought the Norwegian MVNO Chess for NOK 4 million in 2001, and sold it to TeliaSonera for NOK 1 billion in 2003, was to invest and be part of Mojo3G in Thailand.
Vollviks Norwegian MVNO Company “Ludo” was to receive a 49% stake in Mojo3G Thailand in return for a U$2.4 million investment. However, Ludo ended up paying just U$600,000 to Mojo3G, after several delays and accusations, resulting in a drama picked up by Norwegian media and turning the whole project in to a public soap opera.
Ludo was declared bankrupt in 2016, and in August 2016 Idar Volkvik received his 9th personal bankruptcy.
Leaving the sinking ship
MCONZULT ASIA received its MVNO license in December 3, 2009 as one of the first five MVNOs in Thailand. The five MVNOs: 365 Communications, IEC3G, i-mobile, i-Kool and Mojo3G, where given a license to launch and operate MVNO service on the 2100MHz network of state telecom operator TOT.
365 Communications Co., Ltd., providing MVNO service, under the brand “365-3G” was the first to leave TOT on October 10, 2013 when it declined to renew the contract. 365 moved to the other state enterprise operator CAT Telecom, and was sold, rebranded and re-launched as 168 Communication in April 2015.
IEC3G of International Engineering Company PCL (IEC) decided to put up its MVNO for sale in 2013, and in March 2014, 100% of the registered and paid-up capital held in the MVNO, was sold to Tron (Thailand) Co., Ltd for THB 11,7 million. The MVNO was resurrected under the name Tron IEC3G in 2015 – with no success.
In August 2016, the MVNO once again changed hand/brand, and is now operating as Buzzme under the company Mobile 8 Telco (Thailand) Co., Ltd.
Samart Corporation, a longtime partner to TOT, decided to move its MVNO i-mobile Plus, from TOT to CAT Telecom last year.
With Mojo3G’s departure, host operator TOT now only has two MVNO’s left: i-Kool (Loxley) and Buzzme. At the end of 2016 TOT, including the three MVNOs: i-Kool, Buzzme and Mojo3G, had a combined market share of just 0.18% representing 163,658 subscribers out of a total market size of 91 million.