Allirajah Subaskaran discusses upcoming launches, why discount telephony still has a future and what 5G means for MVNOs Lycamobile launched in South Africa and Ukraine earlier this year, taking the number of countries it serves to 23. How many more markets are you targeting?

Allirajah Subaskaran: Geographical expansion has been a key focus of Lycamobile as we work towards our goal of reaching 50 million customers by 2020.

Ensuring we are the largest MVNO by geographical footprint means we are able to offer by far the most cost-effective service in the market today, with this global network allowing us to offer the most far-reaching on-net offer in the global telecoms market.

Some of our most recent product launches have seen us breaking into new territories to bring our low-cost calling, messaging and data services to emerging markets such as South Africa and Ukraine, with many of these regions presenting numerous challenges that we have tackled by being flexible and building meaningful relationships with partners.

Over the next few years we have plans to expand our offering into a range of new territories, including South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia, with a number of launches due to be announced in the coming months.

These include Turkey, Russia, Serbia, Cameroon and Mexico.

How are you progressing towards the 50 million customers target?

I certainly feel very optimistic about the future.

Lyca Group already serves over 15 million customers in 23 countries worldwide… and we are confident that we will be able to achieve our goal of reaching 50 million people by 2020.

Our focus in the next few years will be on continuing to expand our geographical footprint… [but] our growth plans are not only limited to [this].

We are also growing our customer base through expansion into new complementary sectors including entertainment, health and financial services, to name but a few.

We are dedicated to innovation and are always exploring new ideas for products and services that make it easier and more affordable for our customers to connect with their communities at home and around the world.

Do you agree therefore with a report last year that said the era of MVNOs offering discount telephony deals is over?

No, we don’t think this era is over at all.

One of Lycamobile’s unique selling points is its dedication to providing customers with the highest quality services at the most competitive prices.

It is therefore imperative that we retain our consistently low price points to stay ahead of our competitors and we are always developing new offers, incentives and products in order to achieve this.

In addition, we have identified new key territories, including Sub-Saharan Africa, South America, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia, giving us the opportunity to take advantage of their largely untapped MVNO markets.

This ethos has seen us outgrow our competitors, achieving greater coverage of the European population than any other network operator.

More than that, we are committed to applying the same ethos to our expanding range of complementary products and services, which now span across technology, media and telecoms, financial services, travel and transport, healthcare, and entertainment, with the overarching goal of making it easier for our customers to connect with their communities at home and around the world, at the lowest possible prices.

The industry is talking a lot about 5G currently – what impact do you think this technology will have on MVNOs?

With demand for data usage by MVNO users set to rise by 18GB by 2021, the introduction of 5G will provide an opportunity to introduce faster, better services to customers.

Whilst there is potential for MVNOs to be temporarily disadvantaged in the short term following the release of 5G (due to a likely 6-month delay in MVNO accessibility), once adopted it will offer a range of growth opportunities, including enhanced OTT services, that MVNOs will be well positioned to harness.

Lycamobile’s size and flexible approach positions us well to address these opportunities efficiently, at scale and at the lowest possible prices.

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