Press Release

Dutch virtual mobile market drops to 6.6 mln Sims after Tele2 becomes MNO

Houten, The Netherlands, 20 July 2016 - The number of mobile customers with virtual operators in the Netherlands decreased by 11 percent over the six months to March 2016, to a total of 6.6 million. This large decline was caused by Tele2 becoming a full network operator in Q1 and no longer being considered a MVNO. If we exclude Tele2, the virtual operators showed a small increase of 0.3 percent in customers over the six months, mainly due to growth at independent MVNOs, according to Telecompaper's latest Dutch Mobile Virtual Operators Market report.

Of the total VO customers, around 3.2 million were customers with mobile operator-owned virtual brands, whose share remained relatively stable. The independent MVNOs grew organically by 1.0 percent to 3.4 million SIMs, which is about 17 percent of the total Dutch mobile market in Q1 2016. 

Virtual operators active in the ‘no-frills’, low-cost segment and in the business market segment were the main ones growing in the period researched. The ‘no-frills’ segment, which includes both MVNOs and second brands of MNOs offering basic services at relatively low prices, remains the largest segment in the VO market, accounting for 49 percent of customers. The no-frills segment grew by 1.6 percent compared to Q3 2015, mainly due to growth at Simpel, Youfone and hollandsnieuwe, while the much smaller business segment grew by 3.5 percent over the same period, mainly due to growth at Voiceworks and Telfort Zakelijk. The second-largest segment, taking about a third of the total VO customers, remains the ethnic/international players, with Lebara taking the lead. 

With exclusion of Tele2 as MVNO, the ranking of the biggest VOs has changed somewhat. KPN’s brand Telfort (excluding its business customers) remains market leader based on the number of mobile Sims at the end of Q1 2016. The next four places are taken by Lebara, Lycamobile, hollandsnieuwe and Simyo. With the exclusion of Tele2, Simyo joined the top-five list. The top five brands together accounted for 62.8 percent of the total virtual mobile Sims, an increase from 55.5 percent at the end of September 2015. The next five brands were relatively stable, with Ben leading, followed by Simpel, Telfort Zakelijk, AH Mobiel and Ziggo.

Telecompaper’s latest report shows that the VO market remains quite crowded.  We continue to see brands exit the market, while also several, and in particular small business providers, launch more new initiatives, including mobile services as an add-on to their existing services. Compared to the last research period, four MVNOs brands exited the market, in addition to Tele2’s exclusion. Mobile Vikings stopped services in the Netherlands, and Mtel ended MVNO VastMobiel, both at the end of 2015. Relieve Mobile also ceased its MVNO in March 2016 and due to a merger with Dean Connect, the brand One XS ceased to exit. Since the end of Q1 2016, another three brands exited or announced plans to leave the market: Clubmobiel, Delta Mobiel and Yes telecom acquired Dekatel, without continuing the Dekatel brand.

Besides new entrants and exits, other changes up to Q1 2016 include Fiber Nederland acquiring Stipte and Choozze stopping its freemium offer.

Telecompaper expects more new entrants in the VO market particularly in the business space, but also several exits, particularly in the consumer space amongst the independent MVNOs which only offer basic mobile services and depend on mobile as their main source of income. “They will need to distinguish themselves, as offering just a ‘me-too’ service is no longer a suitable strategy,” said Telecompaper analyst Alejandra van de Roer. “The intense competition in the telecom market and changing interests among consumers are also driving MVNOs to launch value-added and OTT services, in order to limit churn and boost revenues, as recently seen at Lebara and Lycamobile.” 

Much of the success of MVNOs depends on their wholesale agreement for network access. With Tele2 as new MNO entrant in the market, Telecompaper expects new opportunities to emerge for VOs. Tele2 is expected to actively seek wholesale customers on its network, as it works to raise capacity utilisation and recoup some of its network investment and operating costs. This may present a new chance for virtual players looking to gain access to 4G data services. 

The report “Dutch Mobile Virtual Operators Market - Market overview first quarter 2016” provides a detailed analysis of the developments in the Dutch VO market, both in terms of subscriber numbers and trends in the market. The report discusses second brands, independent MVNOs and MVNEs. The report also contains sections discussing the market by segment, analysing exposure in the media and forecasting market expectations. The report is published twice a year, and the single-user price is EUR 1,900. Together with this research document individual profiles of most of the VO market players are available, consisting of more than 40 companies.


Telecompaper is an independent research company. We publish the latest information about the global telecom industry and provide our international customers with need-to-know information and market insight via news feeds, newsletters, research and advisory services. Telecompaper has its main office in Houten (the Netherlands). The company was established in June 2000. More information can be found on our website: www.telecompaper.com


Alejandra van de Roer or Marion ter Welle - Research Analysts
Phone: +31 30 6349600
E-mail: alejandra@telecompaper.com 

Categories: Mobile
Countries: Netherlands