TIM ‘to launch MVNO’ to compete with Iliad Italy

By:
Alan Burkitt-Gray
Published on:

Reports say Telecom Italia CEO tells analysts of plan to launch virtual brand to compete with Iliad in Italian market

Italy’s TIM is to launch a virtual brand in order to compete with both the combination of Wind and Three in the country and – as part of that deal – the entry of French-based Iliad into the market.

The report emerged during meetings CEO Flavio Cattaneo had with investors after the company’s latest quarterly results. The company is officially not commenting on the reports, but is also not denying them.

TIM, the fixed and mobile brand of Telecom Italia, bought a mobile virtual aggregator in 2015 and people in a position to know point to that company, Noverca, as the vehicle that will be used to launch a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) into the Italian market.

“There is no official statement on or off the record,” said a TIM official.

Iliad, which owns Free Mobile in France, is buying infrastructure, spectrum and licences from the newly merged Wind and Three Italy. They closed their 50-50 merger last week, to create a strong competitor in the Italian market to TIM and Vodafone. Iliad has so far not disclosed its plans for launching in Italy.

Last year’s acquisition saw TIM pick up 170,000 MVNO customers from Noverca, with TIM paying up to €3.9 million. 

It is clear that that 2015 deal is central to enabling TIM to move fast to compete with a strengthened Wind/Three and the arrival of Iliad. A launch of the new virtual brand is expected in early 2017, said people in a position to know.

It is understood that it will be completely independent from TIM and will be seen as complementary, with its own fully dedicated systems.

The aim is to win customers that are not yet TIM customers and the new launch will be “fully digital” in the way it is run, but perhaps 3G only, suggested one analyst.

TIM will “remain the point of reference in terms of quality of the networks, speed, technology and innovation, premium contents and convergent services”, said an executive in a position to know the company’s strategy.