Transatel CEO hits back at premium 4G charges

By Kezia Joseph on 31/03/2016

Jacques Bonifay told Mobile that it doesn’t make sense for virtual network enablers (MVNA) to pay a premium to offer 4G to its MVNOs.
Transatel currently operates as an MVNA on the EE network, providing services to 15 MVNOs in the UK. The operator only recently enabled Transatel to access faster 4G speeds, access which Bonifay believes took far too long.
‘An MNO’s typical position is to charge more for 4G, and to me that is not logical. Operators like to keep the uniqueness of 4G access and it took a bit of time for us to get 4G on EE. We have access now but it took us a long time to get it – too long in my opinion.
‘I don’t understand why we should pay a premium, from an industrial stand point it doesn’t make sense. The technology came into the market a while back and we imagined we would have access two to three years ago, but it has just been a recent addition. 4G allows higher bandwidth, enabling the end user to use megabytes. So if you charge the megabytes at the same price as 3G and 4G, then by definition the operator’s ARPU will be higher.
‘From a marketing perspective, operators push 4G because it’s a better service for the consumer, so they want to charge the value of that. For me, the value is already being charged because there is a high usage of megabytes and since we [MVNAs] pay for megabytes, the value is already there.’
Bonifay described the UK wholesale market as one in which it is difficult to survive. Pointing out the dwindling number of MVNAs in the UK, he expressed surprise that the UK regulator does not do more to address the wholesale market.
‘Some time ago there were more players in the UK market. EE and Three are big players in the MVNO space now, O2 is not very visible and Vodafone has stepped back a little. I’m surprised that the UK regulator doesn’t look at it – it is very much on the off-side and it doesn’t really ask questions or look at how the market is evolving. If I compare UK and France, the French regulators keep on asking questions and the UK regulators are a little far away from the market, but it’s a different way to do things.’

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Mobile Today