Archive [22/12/2010] – The trading season is open for companies interested in providing services to virtual cellular networks – a market that can reach 40 million users in Brazil in ten years, according to a study by consultancy AT Kearney.
The approval, last Thursday, of the regulation of the National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel) for “virtual operators” promises to warm up business prospects for consultancies and technology companies.
These companies will bridge the gap between the real operators (TIM, Claro, Vivo, and Oi, as well as smaller ones such as CTBC and Sercomtel) and the virtual ones – banks and retail chains, for example, that will lease the telecoms networks to offer services. It is a flank that opens possibilities to provide a series of services, from assisting in management to negotiating with providers of application systems.
It is not yet known how this market will move. Creating a virtual mobile phone operator will require investments of “hundreds of millions of dollars,” says AT Kearney’s president in Brazil, Raul Aguirre. The executive cites as an example the Virgin of England, which invested $ 400 million to launch its service.
“Anyone who was analyzing this market will get their business plans out of the drawer,” says Luís Minoru, chief technology officer for technology systems integrator PromonLogicalis. The company plans to act as a consultant for the candidates to launch a virtual operation of mobile telephony.
The regulation for MVNOs (mobile operator with the virtual network) provides two levels of intermediaries between the company that owns the infrastructure and the one that will offer the cellular service with its own brand.
One of the intermediaries is called an “aggregator” – a sort of advisor to the virtual operator. It is he who will help in the definition of the contract with the teles. Companies like PromonLogicalis and consultants like AT Kearney and McKinsey are attentive to this vein.
“We want to act as consultants for the strategy of entering the companies in the market,” says Aguirre of AT Kearney.
Another intermediary will be the “stabilizer”, which will provide the technical elements – software, applications, messaging – to give the mobile service the face that the virtual operator wants.
This segment has attracted the attention of a number of companies and should bring to the country groups with experience in other markets. One of them is the Belgian Effortel, which serves Carrefour in countries where the supermarket chain has virtual mobile operations.
According to sources heard by Valor, the telcos themselves plan to create business units to operate in that niche. Searching for Valor, operators Vivo, TIM, Claro and Oi did not comment on the matter.
Small Brazilian companies are also moving. Bichara Telecomunicações, a provider of equipment for telecoms, has set up a business unit – Orange Telecom – to service the virtual operators. Daniel Bichara, a partner of the company, expects to bill about R $ 7 million in this segment in 2011.
Bsmart, a mobile application programmer, negotiates partnerships with foreign groups interested in working in Brazil. Alexander Dannias, director of the company, says he wants to do full business intermediation.
Jornal Valor Econômico – Tecnologia & Comunicações: Thalita Moreira (São Paulo)