At the end of March 2008, around 3.49 million customers in the Netherlands used an MVNO, according to the latest research report from Telecompaper. Compared with the end of September 2007, the number of MVNO customers grew by 4.7%, up from 3.34 million.
MVNOs share of the larger Dutch mobile market was stable over the period. In March 2008, VOs had a market share in number of SIMs of 17.8%, which was almost the same as in September 2007. The growth of 4.7 percent in the last six months was only slightly more than the growth of the total mobile market, which grew at a rate of 4.4%.
MVNOs that entered the mobile market over the period October 2007 to March 2008 include BEN, Easytel Mobile and Vectone. With some players leaving the market and new entrants coming in, the number of MVNOs was stable over the period. At the end of March 2008, 44 virtual operators were active in the Dutch market.
In the near term, Telecompaper expects the number of virtual operator subscribers to stabilise, as some operations exit the market and new market entrants continue to appear.
While the large MVNOs are losing market share, the rest of the virtual operators are growing steadily, and in some cases, strongly. Having a unique business case makes it possible for players to generate a solid profit and for others to enter the market easily.
Telecompaper expects that the number of service providers will increase further this year, helped by the mobile virtual network enablers (MVNEs - that is companies that will handle billing, network element provisioning, administration and so on - also known as mobile network enablers - MNEs) such as Aspider and Teleena which are able to offer all the services needed for launch, from "order to cash".
The main advantages of MVNEs for virtual operators are a faster time to market and lower capex/opex investments, leaving room for VOs to focus on their sales and marketing efforts.