• Vodafone has been using PartnerMarket arrangements since 2002 to create a strategic presence outside its own network footprint. DT is now signalling plans to create competing alliances.

DT eyes challenge to Vodafone’s alliance network

DT eyes challenge to Vodafone’s alliance network

Source: Deutsche Telekom

Deutsche Telekom (DT) put a shot across Vodafone’s bows by indicating that it is planning to license the Magenta brand outside of its operating footprint, to generate more revenue and build on existing procurement and roaming collaborations.

Hans‑Christian Schwingen, DT’s outgoing Chief Brand Officer, dropped fairly hefty hints about DT’s future plans for the Magenta brand in an article on the operator’s website.

He seemed encouraged by the response to 2019’s rebrand of DT’s T‑Mobile Austria business unit to Magenta Telekom, and said DT could use the more colourful marque not only for its own OpCos but also external partners (Deutsche Telekomwatch, #74 and #75). “I am convinced that our Austrian success can be an example for our other national companies, wherever they can also present convincing and substantial narratives”, Schwingen said. He added that “‘Magenta’, unlike ‘Deutsche Telekom’, is something we can license, and earn money with, even outside of our original footprint”.

Rival buying bloc emerging, too

Schwingen’s comments add to various signals that DT could be upping plans to emulate PartnerMarkets in other areas where it supports cross-operator collaboration.

DT already operates BuyIn, a procurement joint venture with Orange, and recently tied with Bell Canada and Portuguese operator NOS as part of long‑running attempts to build the alliance’s scale (Deutsche Telekomwatch, #91). Bell Canada competitor Rogers Communications is a member of the PartnerMarkets federation.

FreeMove, the DT‑backed roaming and enterprise services alliance, also recently added Swiss incumbent Swisscom to its membership, after the latter’s decision to leave PartnerMarkets (Vodafonewatch, #182).

Telefónica is another international operator that has been making PartnerMarkets-type plays. The Spanish group operates a number of businesses in Europe and Latin America, using the: O2 brand in Germany, Spain, and the UK; Movistar in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Spain, Venezuela, and Uruguay; and Vivo in Brazil.

Telefónica launched its PartnersProgram in 2011, although this is regarded as more focused on procurement and research than branding. In March 2019, Telefónica said the PartnersProgram covered 65 nations and 1.8 billion users. Recently, the Spain‑based operator indicated that it is working to place its Hispanoamérica operating businesses on the same footing as PartnersProgram operators (Telefónicawatch, #140).

Furthermore, Telefónica has started to use the TerraFibra brand in Brazil for fibre broadband franchises, taking coverage to areas outside its footprint with small communication providers. Also worth noting is Telefónica’s Telco4Telco Group wholesale initiative, which aims to offer Telefónica products and platforms to other smaller operators (Telefónicawatch, passim).

Brand: a nice earner for Vodafone

Vodafone’s PartnerMarkets federation was originally set up in 2002, and while it has been decreasing in reach over the past decade or more, it still boasts around 29 partners in 42 countries. Recent additions include Vodafone Cook Islands (see separate report) and Vodafone Oman, a new entrant due to begin operations in the Sultanate later in 2020 (Vodafonewatch, #179).

Among these associates, ten use the Vodafone brand — although these tend to be either former Group businesses (and so may be in transition) or very small operators that desire the added clout of such a well‑known brand. They are: Airtel‑Vodafone in the Channel Islands; Vodafone Cook Islands; Vodafone Faroe Islands; Vodafone Fiji; Vodafone French Polynesia; Vodafone Iceland; Vodafone New Zealand; Vodafone Oman; Vodafone Qatar; and Vodafone Ukraine. With the Group in retrenchment mode, other markets could be added in future — such as Egypt, where the proposed sale of the Group’s stake in Vodafone Egypt to Saudi Telecom Company is described as the “basis for a long-term PartnerMarkets agreement” (Vodafonewatch, #182).

The Vodafone brand is also used by joint ventures such as Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA), Vodafone Idea (VfI) in India, and VodafoneZiggo (VfZ) in the Netherlands — and the Group generates a not‑insignificant revenue stream from these tie‑ups. Documentation seen by Vodafonewatch indicates that, in the year to 30 March 2019 (FY18–19), Vodafone charged VHA €16m (£13.4m), VfZ €30m, and VfI €16.2m for ‘brand-related services’ (despite VfI being set up in August 2018, part way through that financial year). Overall, Vodafone brand revenue amounted to €605.4m in FY18–19. This figure includes brand licensing to “OpCos, affiliates, and partner networks” of Vodafone, so includes significant internal re‑charging.

In Australia, where VHA is awaiting the green light to merge with rival TPG Telecom, the operator has indicated that, once merged, it will “operate a number of market‑leading brands and will continue to invest in developing each of its existing brands”, suggesting that the Vodafone brand will be around in the country for a while yet.

MarketOperatorNotes
 Source: Vodafone and Vodafonewatch.

Angola

Movicel Angola

Joined March2019.

Argentina

Telecom Argentina

Joined September2018.

Armenia

MTS

Joined late‑2008, as part of a wider deal with MTSGroup.

Austria

A1

Joined early‑2003, as part of a wider deal with mobilkomAustria, now A1Telekom Austria.

Belgium

Proximus

Joined 2006, following Vodafone’s exit from Proximus. Proximus parent Belgacom also has a partnership with Vodafone in Luxembourg. Both operations renewed their relationship with theGroup in mid‑2014.

Bulgaria

A1

Joined early‑2006, building on 2003 deal between Vodafone and parent mobilkomAustria, now A1Telekom Austria.

Canada

Rogers Communications

Joined mid‑2014, a few months after VodafoneUK and Vodafone Netherlands’ former Chief Executive GuyLaurence’s appointment to take over at the Canadian operator. Collaboration on procurement has been flagged as a key area of the tie‑up.

Channel Islands

Airtel-Vodafone

Joined June2007, with sister operations in Guernsey and Jersey. Vodafone competes with sister operator BhartiAirtel in India and elsewhere.

Chile

Entel

Joined mid‑2008. Saw Vodafone regain a presence in the country following the 2008–2009 lapse of its PartnerMarkets relationship with LatinAmerican giant AméricaMóvil.

Cook
Islands

Vodafone Cook Islands

Joined in 2019 after Vodafone expanded its relationship with Fiji’s Amalgamated Telecom Holdings.

Croatia

A1

Joined early‑2003, as part of a wider deal with mobilkomAustria, now A1Telekom Austria.

Cyprus

Cyta

Joined early‑2004.

Denmark

TDC

Joined late‑2001. Latest renewal was announced in 2017, covering Denmark and Norwaybut TDC divested its Norwegian business in 2018.

Dominican Republic

Altice

Joined mid‑2016, as part of broader relationship with AlticeGroup. Thought to cover Altice’s local Tricom and OrangeDominicana interests.

Estonia

Elisa

Joined 2002, alongside sister OpCo in Finland.

Faroe
Islands

Vodafone Iceland

Ostensibly joined in 2008, with adoption of Vodafone branding (and building on existing deal between Vodafone and sister operator VodafoneIceland).

Fiji

Vodafone Fiji

Membership originally linked to Vodafone’s minority (but controlling) stake in the operator, formed when it entered Fiji in the early‑1990s. The relationship was reaffirmed when Vodafone sold out of the operator in mid‑2014.

Finland

Elisa

Joined 2002, alongside sister OpCo in Estonia.

French Polynesia

Vodafone French Polynesia

Joined early‑2012, with Vodafone helping to establish the startup operator with owner Pacific Mobile Telecom.

France

Altice

AlticeGroup’s SFR business operated as a PartnerMarket during Vodafone’s time as a minority parent of the operator. SFR renewed the deal following the Group’s exit in 2011, and again, in early‑2014 and mid‑2016, after Altice’s acquisition of the operator from Vivendi.

Hong
Kong

Hutchison Telecom

Linked up with the Group as part of Vodafone’s 2011 Conexus Mobile Alliance tie‑up, replacing an earlier PartnerMarkets relationship with rival SmarTone. Confusingly, the relationship was originally described as an “Alliance Partnership” rather than “PartnerMarkets” one, but now appears to fall under the federation’s remit. It adds to numerous other connections in a complex historical relationship between Vodafone and parent CKHutchison.

Iceland

Vodafone Iceland

Joined early‑2003, with agreement expanded to cover adoption of Vodafone brand in 2006. Relationship also extends to the FaroeIslands.

Japan

SoftBank

Joined late‑2017, eleven years after Vodafone sold Vodafone Japan to SoftBank.

Latvia

Tele2

Joined in 2006, building on Vodafone’s existing partnership with BitéLithuania. The deal remained in operation after then‑parent TDC sold Bité in 2007. In 2019, Bité signed an agreement with Tele2 to create a network-sharing joint venture in Latvia and Lithuania. In 2017, Tele2 signed an agreement with Vodafone covering Latvia, Lithuania, and Sweden.

Lithuania

Tele2

Joined mid‑2003, building on then‑parent TDC’s existing partnership with Vodafone in Denmark. The deal remained in operation after TDC sold Bité in 2007. In 2019, Bité signed an agreement with Tele2 to create a network-sharing joint venture in Latvia and Lithuania. In 2017, Tele2 signed an agreement with Vodafone covering Latvia, Lithuania, and Sweden.

Luxembourg

Tango

Joined early‑2009, succeeding an earlier, lapsed deal with rival LuxGSM, formed in 2004 following the sale of Vodafone’s minority interest. Tango parent Belgacom also has a partnership with Vodafone in Belgium.

North Macedonia

A1

Joined following parent mobilkomAustrias acquisition of a mobile licence in Macedonia during 2007, building on mobilkom’s 2003 deal with Vodafone. Now part of A1Telekom Austria.

New
Zealand

Vodafone New Zealand

Joined in July2019 after Vodafone sold its 100% stake in the operator.

Oman

Vodafone Oman

Set to launch in 2020, with Vodafone tying with owner Oman Future Telecommunications on development of the new business.

Peru

Entel

Joined 2018, extending an existing deal with Entel in Chile.

Qatar

Vodafone Qatar

Joined in 2018 after Vodafone sold its stake to Qatari partner Qatar Foundation.

Russia

MTS

Joined late‑2008, as part of a wider deal with MTSGroup (a former Deutsche Telekom investment). The partnership has appeared active in the areas of joint services and technology procurement and was last renewed in late‑2015. The two operators originally cooperated in Uzbekistan, but MTS exited the country in mid‑2016.

Serbia

Vip mobile

Joined following parent mobilkomAustrias acquisition of a mobile licence in Serbia during late‑2006, building on mobilkom’s 2003 deal with Vodafone. Now part of A1Telekom Austria, and set to rebrand as A1 in 2020.

Singapore

StarHub

Linked up with the Group as part of Vodafone’s 2011 Conexus Mobile Alliance tie‑up, replacing an earlier PartnerMarkets deal with rival M1. The relationship was originally described as an “Alliance Partnership” but appears to fall under the PartnerMarkets’ remit. Vodafone was linked with a play for StarHub in 2014.

Slovenia

A1

Joined early‑2003 (as part of a wider deal with mobilkomAustria). Now part of now A1Telekom Austria.

South Korea

LG Uplus

Joined in 2017, with a focus on enterprise services. Vodafone had previously linked up with rival KT following its 2011 Conexus Mobile Alliance tie‑up.

Sweden

Tele2

Formally joined in early‑2010, alongside renewal of Vodafone’s partnership with TDC in Denmark. In 2017, Tele2 signed an agreement with Vodafone covering Latvia, Lithuania, and Sweden.

Switzerland

Sunrise

Joined in 2020 after rival Swisscoms exit from Partner Markets in 2019.

Taiwan

Far EasTone

Joined as part of Vodafone’s 2011 Conexus Mobile Alliance tie‑up, replacing competitor ChunghwaTelecom. Has ties with ChinaMobile.

Tunisia

Tunisie Telecom

Joined July2018, after forming three‑year deal.

Ukraine

Vodafone Ukraine

Joined late‑2008, as part of a wider deal with MTSGroup. A renewal of the deal in late‑2015 saw deepening of ties at the troubled Ukraine business, with adoption of Vodafone branding. MTS sold the business in late-2019.

United Arab Emirates

du

Joined early‑2009. du parent Emirates International Telecommunications’ other interests include Vodafone Malta rival GO.