Cell C’s partnership with MVNOs has resulted in 1 million new customers for the South African network operator. Over the last few years, Cell C has created a focused strategy to embrace sound partnerships with exceptional brands, it said. Cell C CEO Jose Dos Santos says this approach has allowed the company to grow its MVNO base substantially. He added that in a demanding market such as that in South Africa, customer-specific offers are essential to grow market share, and MVNOs bring much-needed competition and value to the telecommunications industry. Cell C has invested significantly in a sophisticated MVNE platform, which allows the company to launch MVNOs efficiently. The company believes it is currently the only mobile network operator in South Africa to offer a dedicated MVNE platform. In addition to the growth in the MVNO customer base, Cell C has also nearly tripled its total subscriber base in the last four years, bringing its to more than 24 million customers.
Since 2006, Cell C has taken the lead in developing the MVNO sector in South Africa. While it ranks third behind Vodacom and MTN in terms of subscribers, it is the only operator in the country with a dedicated platform for MVNOs, of which there are currently nine. Among them is FNB Connect, which leverages the clientele of First National Bank (launched in 2015), and MRP Mobile (launched in 2014), which is offered by the retail chain Mr. Price. Their success is a reminder that MVNOs do best when they can bring a ready-made customer base and brand loyalty to the table and offer value-added mobile services that are related to their core businesses. Cell C’s first MVNO venture, a decade ago, was with Virgin Mobile, a successful U.K.-based global brand.
By offering not only access to its network but the full support system of an MVNE platform, Cell C has fostered the development of the South African MVNO sector, and lately the process has been accelerating, with four MVNOs launched in 2015 alone. The operator’s success shows clearly that establishing an MVNE business can drive significant amounts of revenue to an operator, and that taking the initiative to gain first-mover advantage can be decisive. However, we should note that Cell C’s success appears to have motivated one of its competitors, MTN, to go and do likewise; in mid-2016, the company announced that it, too, would begin hosting MVNOs. Cell C will now have to step its game up one notch more to meet this impending challenge.