Wednesday, 1 April 2020

The Rise of Russian MVNOs

Russia has the largest mobile market in Europe, with the number of subscriptions standing at about 231 million at the beginning of 2020. Mobile SIM card penetration is high, at around 158%, although actual mobile user penetration is lower due to the popularity of multiple SIM card use. There is pressure on operator revenue from the poor economic climate, lower pricing resulting from intense competition, and regulatory measures introduced in 2018 which saw the end of roaming charges.

As we discussed in our blog post last year, several mobile network operators are active, although the market is dominated by four major operators (MTS, VEON, Tele2 Russia/Rostelecom and MegaFon). These have expanded their footprints widely through the acquisition of smaller regional service providers. Tele2 Russia has undergone several changes of ownership in recent years. It became a significant player following its merger with Rostelecom, which it hosted as an MVNO. In late 2019 Rostelecom acquired the 55% stake in Tele2 Russia which it did not already own.

Competition in the key markets of Moscow and St Petersburg is particularly fierce, due to the size of the cities’ populations and the higher concentration of wealth there.

The extensive deployment of LTE infrastructure has supported growth opportunities through mobile broadband and data services, which make up a growing proportion of overall mobile revenue. Investments in carrier aggregation and LTE-A technologies have further boosted network capabilities, while operators are also partnering with vendors to prepare for 5G later in 2020.

According to Telecompaper the Russian MVNO subscriber base was set to grow 40% in 2019. The figure was expected to reach 9.9 million. The country's mobile subscriber base as a whole will have grown by less than 1 percent in 2019.

The 10 million MVNO subscriber threshold is expected to be exceeded in January-February of 2020. According to the preliminary data collected by TMT Consulting, MVNO customers will make up almost 4 percent of the entire Russian subscriber base this year, up from was less than 3 percent a year earlier.

At the end of the third quarter 2019, there were 9.3 million MVNO users in Russia. The market share of MVNO projects run by telecommunications operators was around 75 percent, and MVNOs owned by banks accounted for 15 percent of all MVNO subscribers at the end of September 2019.

The largest MVNO market player is Yota, which saw its market share decline by 10pp to 57%, as banking players such as Tinkoff Mobile of TCS Group and SberMobile of Sberbank expanded their share of the market to 9% and 5%, respectively at Yota’s expense. Another large player with 16% share is the MVNO of state integrated telecom major Rostelecom that controls Tele2.

The corporate subscriber base was 800,000 in the MVNO segment at the end of September. Rostelecom's MVNO serves 56 percent of all B2B customers and Yota accounts for 24 percent.

The Russian MVNO market was dormant until 2016, when Tele2 decided to take a leap into the world of MVNOs and open up its network to MVNOs. The focus of banks on MVNOs is the result of mobile operators aggressively nudging themselves into the mobile market; two of the biggest MNOs in Russia have established themselves as banks with full licences, and they heavily promote their banking services to subscribers.

Now Yandex is considering expanding into mobile telephony with an MVNO based on the Tele2 network. It could offer services integrated into the Yandex.Plus subscription (such as access to Yandex.Music and discounts to Yandex's other services).

Monday, 30 March 2020

Hungary Allocates 5G Spectrum in 700 MHz, 2.1 GHz and 3.6 GHz

The Hungarian regulator NMHH has announced the result of a tender for 5G licences in the country. In a statement, it says that the licences, valid for 15 years in three frequency bands, have been awarded to Magyar Telekom, Telenor Hungary and Vodafone Hungary. It adds that in total the three companies will pay HUF128 billion (€360.4 million) for the rights.

NMHH notes that the bids received by March 11 for the 700 MHz, 2100 MHz and 3600 MHz bands revealed that there was more demand than supply. It therefore held auctions for the blocks offered, subject to strict precautions. The three service providers were able to bid for a number of frequency blocks within each frequency band, starting with the initial bid value specified in the documentation for that band. The auction was preceded by a trial auction on March 24.

Karas Monika, chairman of NMHH, said: “5G frequency services will play a key role in economic development and, in the short term, can effectively support our healthcare network, domestic telework and distance education, even in times of coronavirus restrictions. And in the post-epidemic period, they can accelerate the recovery of the Hungarian economy.”

To this end, NMHH will encourage service providers to install 5G at locations that are not only important to them from a market point of view but are also socially important, such as the internet. hospitals, campuses or major transport routes.

The usage rights of the acquired frequencies will expire uniformly in 2035. The 700 MHz frequency band will only be available once this band has definitively moved out, ie not earlier than September 6, 2020.

The term of the rights may be extended once for a further period of five years, subject to unchanged conditions and without a single additional fee being charged for the right of use of the frequency.

Google translation of the NMHH announcement says:

The March 11 bidding process for the sale of usage rights for the fifth generation (5G) mobile technology and wireless broadband in the 700 MHz, 2100 MHz and 3600 MHz bands revealed that there was more demand than supply, Thus, on March 26, NMHH held auctions of the blocks offered, subject to strict precautions.

This is of paramount importance for the Hungarian economy, as it will give Hungary a competitive advantage over those countries where the most important spectrum parts for 5G services have not yet been sold. After the auction, Hungary will be among the first to take advantage of 5G innovations in, for example, industry, health, agriculture, transport or even logistics. The bidding service providers pay the Hungarian public a significant amount, about HUF 128.5 billion, for the frequency usage rights acquired at the auction, thus ultimately for the Hungarian citizens.

The three service providers involved in the NMHH process were able to bid for the number of frequency blocks within each frequency band , starting with the initial bid value specified in the documentation for that band . The auction was preceded by a trial auction on March 24, where representatives of the service providers, in addition to the sales documentation, were introduced to the auction site and the auction methodology at the auction site.

Due to the well-known epidemic situation, the auction took place under special circumstances. The NMHH provided general health monitoring of the event on site, and the necessary protective equipment for each auction participant. At the event, both the service providers and the authority representatives displayed responsible, disciplined behavior, abiding by the health rules that can be expected in such a situation.

Detailed results

At the auction on March 26, Magyar Telekom acquired 10 MHz twice in the 700 MHz band, 10 MHz twice in the 2100 MHz band and 120 MHz in the 3600 MHz band.

Telenor acquired 5MHz twice in the 700 MHz band, with no success in the 2100MHz band, and 140MHz in the 3600MHz band.

Vodafone acquired 10 MHz twice in the 700 MHz band, 5 MHz twice in the 2100 MHz band and 50 MHz in the 3600 MHz band.

There was intense competition between service providers in the 700 MHz band, while none of the bidders in the 2600 MHz band.

Monika Karas, president of the NMIAH According to "The developing are your 5G-and frequency-sales as a result of services plays a key role will be economic development , even in the short term have been the time constraints associated with the coronavirus can effectively support the operation of the health network, domestic telework and distance learning. In the post-epidemic period, they can accelerate the recovery of the Hungarian economy. "

To this end, NMHH will encourage service providers to install 5G at locations that are not only important to them from a market point of view, but are also socially important - such as the Internet. hospitals, campuses or major transport routes.

The usage rights of the acquired frequencies will expire uniformly in 2035. The 700 MHz frequency band will only be available once this band has definitively moved out, ie not earlier than 6 September 2020. The term of the rights may be extended once for a further period of five years, subject to unchanged conditions and without any additional one-off payment being made for the right to use the frequency.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Algeria - Growth and Competition in North Africa

The mobile services market in Algeria showed significant growth in the last couple of years, having been relatively stagnant previously. Much of this growth was stimulated by the government’s efforts to improve connectivity in rural areas.

Intensifying price competition between the three MNOs – Mobilis, Djezzy and Ooredoo Algeria – together with increases in taxes on voice and data services, have had a negative effect on operator revenue. A new roaming agreement with Tunisia will place further pressure on revenue.
With the market becoming more mature, operators in turn are looking to opportunities in the mobile data and mobile broadband segments to generate revenue. To this end they have invested in upgrades to LTE infrastructure and have reported significant increases in data traffic. 

According to Analysys Mason, there were approximately 48.8 million mobile customers in Algeria as of December 31, 2019, compared to 51.3 million mobile customers as of December 31, 2018, representing a mobile penetration rate of approximately 112.3%, compared to 120.4% as of December 31, 2018.

Veon operate in Algeria through their operating company, Optimum, and the brand, “Djezzy.” 

Djezzy broadcasts 2G on 900 MHz and 3G up to HSPA+ on 2100 MHz in 48 Wilayas. 4G/LTE was launched in 2016 on 1800 MHz (band 3) and is available in most Wilayahs. They provide 4G/LTE services in Algeria in 28 of 48 provinces across the country, including Algiers, and the largest provinces in terms of population. Coverage in cities is good, while outdoors on 4G/LTE, but often falls back to 3G indoors. Rural coverarge ranges from 3G to sometimes EDGE or no service. Speeds on 4G/LTE ranges between 10 and 20 Mbps to occasionally poor or trouble connecting to some websites. Overall, connectivity is fairly reliable, though.They generally offer customers mobile telecommunications services under prepaid and postpaid plans.

Djezzy is the most popular brand amongst young people with the most aggressive marketing and generally on par with Mobilis.

Mobilis is the brand under which the mobile subsidiary of state-owned Algérie Télécom is marketing its mobile offers. Based on the number of subscribers it's currently the second operator in the country and was launched in 2003.

Mobilis has been offering 3G connection in basically 80% of all the cities and towns since 2012. 4G/LTE was launched in October 2016 on 1800 MHz (band 3). 4G/LTE is available in the Wilayas of Tlemcen, Constantine, Batna, Bordj Bou Arreridj, El Oued, Biskra, Boumerdès, Tipaza, Blida, Tizi-Ouzou et Sidi Bel-Abbès. Current coverage for 4G can be checked online by selecting the Wilayah, the city and the part of the city.

Mobilis has trialled 5G and expected to launch commercial services in 2020. Towards the end of 2018, Mobilis  successfully tested 5G connections in the town of Oran with the technical support of its partner Huawei. The data rates achieved were 1.18 Gbps. Oran will not be the only 5G town, as the operator is also working with other partners to conduct the same tests in other towns to be ready for global switch to the new technology in 2020.

The third operator in number of users in Algeria is Ooredoo and used to be called Nedjma before.
Just like the other Algerian operators they operate 2G on 900 and 1800 MHz, 3G on 2100 MHz and since end of 2016 on 4G/LTE on 1800 MHz (band 3) as well. Ooredoo covers with 3G most populated areas in Algeria and 28 out of 48 Wilayahs are covered with 4G so far.

Nokia is helping Ooredoo Algeria take the first step towards next generation networks and reinforce its technology leadership in the region with the successful deployment of North Africa's first virtualized Mobile Gateway. This is a crucial step for the migration of core network elements to the cloud and paves the way for the transformation of the core network to support next generation mobile network technology. The deployment allows Ooredoo Algeria to meet growing data demand in the region, and provide new and innovative services like Internet of Things (IoT), in addition to enhanced broadband to its subscribers. Once deployed, Ooredoo Algeria's subscribers will be able to enjoy high bandwidth-consuming services, delivering the best possible performance and reliability.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Kenya has a Model Mobile Market

According to the latest sector statistics report from the regulator, 'Communications Authority of Kenya', The number of active mobile subscriptions (SIM Cards) in the country stood at 53.2 million as at 30th September 2019, up from 52.2 million subscriptions reported at the end of June 2019. This translated to mobile (SIM) penetration level of 112.0%. The high mobile SIM penetration is attributed to the increasing availability and access to mobile networks signal and a variety of convenient mobile services. Available data indicates that at least 2G and 3G covers 96 per cent and 93 per cent of the population respectively. The Authority is driving a number of initiatives to close access gaps including; voice infrastructure and school broadband connectivity projects under the Universal Service Fund (USF), enforcement of operator’s license obligations and licensing of additional frequencies that support mobile services. SIM penetration in the country remains above 100 percent due to multiple SIM ownership among users of cellular services.

The following network operators are active in Kenya:

Airtel (formerly Zain) - to be merged with Telkom
Telkom (formerly Orange) - to be merged with Airtel
Faiba 4G (on 4G-only)

The statistics from the 'Communications Authority of Kenya' include the MVNO's Equitel and Mobile Pay Limited separately. While data about Faiba 4G is not included. Equitel uses Airtel network while we are not sure which network Tangaza Pesa (brand name for Mobile Pay Limited) uses.

2G is on 900 and 1800 MHz and 3G on 2100 MHz on all three providers. 4G/LTE has started in 2014 with Safaricom on 800 (B20) and 1800 MHz (B3) and has started with Airtel on 800 MHz (B20).. In 2017 Faiba launched its 4G-only network in a very limited area of the country.

In 2019 Telkom and Airtel Kenya announced the merging of  their mobile businesses in order to operate under a joint venture company to be known as Airtel-Telkom to create a stronger challenger to market leader Safaricom. Airtel and Telkom said that both brands, as well as their respective products and solutions, will continue to co-exist, and service delivery will continue to operate as usual. The finalisation and closure of the transaction is subject to approval by the relevant authorities.

Coverage is pretty good, except for the very remote areas in the north, but mobile towers are sometimes overload, which leads to slow speeds. But the mobile network is rapidly being expanded.

In Kenya mobile phones are often used as a payment method. So advanced payment systems are employed by all three providers for all kinds of payments. Even a first MVNO called Equitel that started in 2014 as a subsidiary of a local bank provides only banking and payment services so far.

Safaricom is the dominant provider in the country. It's co-owned by Vodafone and the public. In 2017 it had 30 million subscribers giving it a whopping 76% of the national base and the best coverage even in remote areas. Because of its many users though, it can be overcrowded and suffer from slow speeds.

4G/LTE has started in 2014 in the cities of Nairobi and Mombasa on 800 and 1800 MHz. This was extended in 2016 to the towns of Nakuru, Elodret, Meru, Kisii and Kisumu and further towns followe for 4G and a 80% 3G coverage is intended. In 2017 4G/LTE is present in all 47 counties of Kenya covering about 1/3 of the population.

Safaricom's payment system is called M-Pesa and is the most used in the country.
Airtel, owned by Indian Bharti Airtel is the second provider in the country. They won the customers of YU after their closure in 2014 and have 15.5% of the national user base in 2017. It's coverage is not as good as Safaricom, but still covers 75% of population in 2016 by 3G.

In 2017 Airtel began trialling a 4G/LTE network in the capital Nairobi and has it has been expanded to 45 other sites in major towns, including Mombasa and Kisumu within the year. In 2018 it bought their license on band 20 (800 MHz) and in May Airtel announced the commercial launch of 4G/LTE services. Coverage is currently available in the cities of Nairobi and Mombasa, although the network will be expanded to other locations in due course.

In 2019 Airtel and Telkom have announced to merge their networks pending approval of the authorities to maintain both brands under a new combined Airtel-Telkom network.

Telkom in Kenya is the smallest provider caring for only 8% of the country's users. It was sold by Orange Group to private equity firm Helios Investment Partners in June 2016. Helios holds 60% and the Government of Kenya the rest. They have dropped the Orange brand and adopted Telkom as its new trading name in 2017.

It has the lowest coverage in the country, but because of their few users, it can give great speeds, where covered. In 2015 the migration from their old CDMA to GSM network has been completed and its CDMA network is now closed down. 4G/LTE has started in the towns of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu and has spread to 17 further towns so far. 2G coverage is at 95% and 3G at 55% in 2017.

In 2019 Airtel and Telkom have announced to merge their networks pending approval of the authorities to maintain both brands under a new combined Airtel-Telkom network.

Faiba 4G by triple-play provider Jamii Telecommunications Ltd. (JTL) started in December 2017 in a very limited area a 4G-only network on 700 MHz (Band 28). There is no fallback to 2G or 3G and all voice services are provided through VoLTE.

At their launch, Faiba had 300 base stations with a target of achieving 1000 stations by 2020. JTL says that Faiba customers can achieve up to 72 Mbps speeds. Faiba is so far available in the following areas: Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret, Kisumu and Thika.

Earlier this week President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the approval of Google Loon Services in Kenya to enable universal 4G data coverage in the country.

He said the approval was in line with Government’s measures to respond to the disruptions caused by the global Coronavirus pandemic that has seen many people work from home to avoid contracting the respiratory illness.  He announced that the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has signed an agreement with Google Loon that allows Loon Balloons to fly over Kenyan airspace.

These balloons, which will hover well above Kenya's commercial airspace, carry 4G base stations and have the capacity to provide wider signal coverage.

The President also said the new development will enable Kenya to retain her competitive advantages in ICT and innovation in the midst of the current crisis; while at the same time laying the foundation for greater expansion once the current health challenge is contained.

The President said Telkom Kenya and Google have been testing the 4G data network and will roll out the commercial service as soon as the balloons are available in the Kenyan airspace. Once inaugurated, this service will extend Telkom Kenya’s 4G network to areas that currently are not covered by any of the Kenyan mobile network providers.

The service will also boost online learning as it will allow teachers and students to access education materials remotely. While citing the recently set up telemedicine centre for Coronavirus detection at Kenyatta National Hospital, the President said Kenyans should be proud of their country’s pole position in technology and innovations.

Loon is a network of balloons travelling on the edge of space, delivering connectivity to people in unserved and underserved communities around the world.

It has taken the most essential components of a cell tower and redesigned them to be light and durable enough to be carried by a balloon 20 km up, on the edge of space. Loon balloons are designed and manufactured to endure the harsh conditions in the stratosphere, where winds can blow over 100 km/hr, and temperatures can drop as low as -90° C.

Loon in partnership with Telkom will pilot an innovative new 4G/LTE access network service in Kenya. This will be Loon’s first commercial service in Africa. The Loon service is an innovative approach to providing extended 4G/LTE coverage to rural and suburban areas with lower population densities, using high altitude balloons operating 20 kilometres (60,000 feet) above sea level, well above air traffic, wildlife, and weather events. The balloons act as floating cell towers, transmitting a provider’s service – in this case, Telkom’s service – directly to a subscriber’s existing 4G/LTE phone below. Loon’s equipment is powered by onboard solar panels.

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Sunday, 22 March 2020

NTT Docomo's 5G Launch on 25 March 2020

NTT Docomo announced this week that they will launch their much anticipated 5G service on a commercial basis in Japan on March 25. At the time of launch, the service will achieve a maximum data rate of 3.4 Gbps. In June the downlink will increase to a maximum 4.1 Gbps. I am assuming this is the theoretical maximum that can be achieved in their network.

Their press release stated:

DOCOMO's 5G coverage will encompass some 150 locations nationwide initially and then expand to all prefectures by June. More than 500 cities are expected to have access to DOCOMO's 5G service by March 2021.

Customers who purchase a 5G-compatible smartphone from DOCOMO will be able to choose between two types of billing plans according to their data needs.

At launch, DOCOMO's lineup of 5G-compatible devices will include seven models in the docomo Smartphone series and a mobile Wi-Fi® router. All models will be compatible with DOCOMO's existing LTE network.

Going forward, DOCOMO is committed to steadily expanding and enhancing its 5G network service to create new value for society and to make customers' lives more convenient and fulfilling.

In addition to the press release, Docomo released a whole lot of interesting material.

The first is the new 70+ pages PDF titled 'New 5G Services & Products Presentation'. This details all their services, devices, partnerships, etc. It is always a pleasure to see an operator having such an open approach, consistently. I blogged about a recent presentation from NTT Docomo that talked about their Open Innovation Cloud that is bringing together partners to offer innovative 5G applications using their infrastructure. Some of these are detailed in here too.

The second is that they have put their launch up on the YouTube channel. This is embedded below:

The third is that they have created some 5G vision adverts, the playlist is embedded below:

Finally, over the years, NTT Docomo have always been in the forefront of trying out new 5G related use cases, approaches, materials, etc. Here is another of our list embedded below that provides some more details.

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Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Thai Operators AIS and True have launched 5G

Earlier we wrote about Thailand's spectrum auctions here. Now two operators, AIS and True have already launched 5G on 2.6 GHz band. This is the TD 2600+ band (n41) as opposed to Band n7.

Picture Source: Ping Chp on Twitter

Mobile World Live reported yesterday that True has switched on their 5G network:

Thai operator True Move launched 5G services after paying the first instalment on newly acquired spectrum, making it the second operator in the country to introduce the next-generation technology.

In a stock market filing yesterday (16 March), the operator said it received a 2.6GHz spectrum licence from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission after making the required 10 per cent payment of the purchase price and putting down a bank guarantee for the remaining amount with the regulator.

True Move, the second-largest operator in the country by subscribers, acquired 90MHz of 2.6GHz spectrum and 800MHz in the 26GHz band for THB21.45 billion ($668 million) in an auction last month.

After running 5G trials in 2019, the operator deployed 400 5G base stations using the 2.6GHz band. Subscribers on unlimited data plans will be offered free service upgrades.

Market leader AIS started 5G service using the 2.6GHz band after making its first spectrum payment on 21 February.

Mobile world live had earlier reported that:

The company posted net profit of THB210 million ($6.7 million), rebounding from a loss of THB2.14 billion in Q4 2018. Group revenue grew 11 per cent year-on-year to THB37.7 billion.

Mobile service revenue increased 11.3 per cent to THB19.9 billion, mainly due to double-digit growth in the post-paid segment and the continued success of a device-bundling campaign, the operator said in an earnings statement.

Product sales grew 38.6 per cent to THB6.99 billion.

Mobile unit True Move added 1.4 million subs in 2019, taking its total to 30.6 million at end-December, of which 8.3 million were post-paid and 22.3 million prepaid. Post-paid APRU edged up to THB468 from THB463 in 4Q 2018.

With regards to AIS, Mobile World Live reported:

AIS set aside a preliminary budget of THB10 billion ($318.8 million) to THB15 billion for its 5G rollout over the next 12 months, pitching the investment as a likely boon for 4G customers too.

AIS spent THB42.1 billion on a 5MHz block in the 700MHz band, 100MHz of 2600MHz and 1200MHz in the 26GHz band in the country’s 5G auction on 16 February, winning licences with 15-year terms.

In a stock market filing, the operator said it will initially use the 700MHz and 2600MHz bands because this will enable it to expand the capacity and coverage of its LTE network given those licences cover 4G and 5G.

For its 5G services in the 2600MHz band, it is targeting at least 50 per population coverage of key cities including Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket within four years. It did not disclose targets for the 700MHz and 26GHz bands.

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Friday, 13 March 2020

Yahoo Mobile Recycling a brand or an actual innovation?

Verizon is launching a mobile phone service through the Yahoo brand called Yahoo Mobile.  It offers subscribers unlimited data, calls and texts for $40 a month on the Verizon’s network. In addition, the plan comes with access to Yahoo Mail Pro, the ad-free version of the email service, which comes with 1,000 GB of storage.

Verizon acquired Yahoo in 2017 to help it expand into the digital advertising space. So the unveiling of today's mobile phone plan may be an attempt to get more users on Yahoo properties to increase ad revenue.The deal included the Yahoo brand and major web services like Flickr and Tumblr. But Verizon was mainly interested in Yahoo’s ad technology, and it’s done little with Yahoo. Both Flickr and Tumblr have since been sold off, and Yahoo’s biggest announcements have been payouts for data breaches.

It seems unlikely the free access to the $3.49-a-month Yahoo Mail Pro will lure anyone to try out the new service. However, the $40 monthly rate for unlimited data may entice consumers looking for a cheaper plan. It is a good price; Verizon charges $65 per month for a prepaid unlimited plan, and AT&T charges $45 per month.

However there are restrictions for example hotspot use being limited to one device at a time, speeds capped at 5 megabits per second and customers will be restricted to Verizon’s 4G LTE network at a time when the operator has been rolling out its faster 5G service across the country. Apparently support for 5G is coming later in 2020.

On the plus side, Yahoo Mobile will give subscribers free access to Verizon’s mobile hotspots whenever available, although speeds will be capped at 5 Mbps. In addition, the carrier says customers can cancel the plan whenever they want.

Family plans are not yet available but they may come later. Verizon says that while the focus is on individual plans for now, "Yahoo Mobile will evolve to meet consumers' needs as it continues to grow."

 Yahoo will be selling phones, though you can also bring your own. A compatibility checker on Yahoo Mobile's site will allow you to see if your phone will work on the network.

However this does feel like a lazy attempt to recycle the Yahoo brand, Yahoo Mobile is basically just a rebranded version of Visible, which is another spinoff phone service operated by Yahoo.
 The singular plan is the same, their websites match up beat for beat, and Yahoo Mobile even offers Visible’s phone insurance plan under Visible’s name. However Visible does not even have the cap that Yahoo Mobile does.
Spinoff carriers like Yahoo Mobile and Visible let Verizon diversify its business and test out new ways of selling wireless service. Verizon isn’t exactly a beloved brand, but Visible has hip branding and a simple pricing structure — something that might appeal to younger customers. Yahoo Mobile offers another take on that, just with the added bonus of  subscription Yahoo Mail. However is that enough to lure customers and gain a foothold in the market?

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