Former Orange Austria CEO continues MVNO drive with Liwest Mobil

Liwest Kabelmedien has become a quad-play provider with Liwest Mobil launch.

Michael Krammer, who was the CEO of Orange Austria until it was acquired by Hutchison Whampoa's Three Austria in 2012, has launched another mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in Austria under a partnership between his company Ventocom and Upper Austria-based cable operator Liwest Kabelmedien.

Liwest Kabelmedien already sells triple-play bundles of home Internet, phone and TV services, and the new mobile service -- called Liwest Mobil -- turns it into a quad-play provider by adding a fourth element to its offering. However, the company does not appear to offer multi-service incentives such as discounts when subscribing to both mobile and fixed plans.

Liwest Mobil, which is operated by the newly established LTK Telekom und Service, has launched three low-cost mobile tariffs on what is already a highly competitive market -- although domestic prices have increased since Three Austria merged with Orange Austria. The MVNO is using the network of T-Mobile Austria.

The new plans cost €4.90 ($5.30) per month for 1 GB of mobile data, 100 minutes and 100 texts; €9.90 per month for 3 GB, 500 minutes and 500 texts; and €16.90 for 6 GB, 1,000 minutes and 1,000 texts. Top speeds are up to 50 Mbps on the downlink and 10 Mbps on the uplink.

Krammer established Ventocom as a mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) to support new MVNOs in Austria, Switzerland and Germany as well as non-German speaking countries. He has already launched MVNOs under the HoT und Allianz-SIM brands, and claimed to account for almost 4 per cent of the Austrian mobile market by the end of 2015. The Liwest project represents Ventocom's first partnership with a cable operator.

The main challenge for Liwest Mobil will be to establish its own unique selling point in order to compete on what has long been a hotly contested market. As many MVNOs have experienced in the past, low prices are often not enough to ensure a sustainable future.

Liwest Mobil has already stressed that its primary strengths will include strong customer support in Liwest shops, with a focus on proximity to customers and personal advisory services.

Krammer is confident that the MVNO will find its niche in this dynamic market with its “restless customers”, noting that more than 80 per cent of customers in Upper Austria seek tariffs with a monthly fee of below €20.

“Liwest Mobil can and will quickly find its place here,” Krammer said.

For its part, Liwest Kabelmedien will be in a better position to compete with rivals such as UPC Austria, which also operates an MVNO, and even Telekom Austria’s A1, which combines fixed and mobile services under A1 One. Three Austria and T-Mobile Austria do not yet benefit from a multi-service offering.