|This article is outdated. (November 2013)|
call the world for less
|Products||Mobile telecommunications services|
|Revenue||US$ 1.1 billion (2011)|
Lycamobile is a mobile phone virtual network that operates in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States and the United Kingdom, where it is based. The Lycamobile brand is distinct from the Lycatel brand and operates with different national corporate entities. Although there are some countries of overlap, Lycamobile and Lycatel do not necessarily operate in parallel. The bulk of Lycamobile revenue is generated from Lycamobile's SIM products for consumers.
The company also operates under the "GT Mobile" brand, which competes in many of the same markets as the Lycamobile brand, offering different price structures and options.
Lycamobile sells international pay-as-you-go SIM cards to consumers wanting to make international telephone calls. An MVNO leases radio frequency from mobile phone network operators and it forms partnerships with the operators in each country it serves. Lycamobile has also developed distinct business structures such as MVNA arrangements in different countries. Lycamobile states that its focus remains quality and affordable international calling for its customers. It has often adopted an aggressive pricing strategy on entry to new markets in order to acquire early market share. In some instances, MNO partners of Lycamobile have been surprised by the actual growth rather than their own projected estimated growth of Lycamobile's products.
The Lycamobile brand concept was launched in 2005 with the first trading using the brand taking place in 2006. Its business structure is arranged to have local national private companies branded under licence as "Lycamobile" and operating exclusively in the particular country as either a MVNO provider or as the principal wholesaler of Lycamobile-branded products. The Lycamobile brand is owned by Hastings Trading e Serviços Lda, a Portuguese holding company located in Madeira, Portugal.
Lycamobile currently operates in Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland,Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Since its launch in Belgium in 2006, Lycamobile now has more than 6 million pay-as-you-go customers throughout all the countries it serves.
In the US, unusual features include unlimited international texting on all monthly plans, and unlimited talk and (throttled) Internet on most plans, while unusual shortcomings include a lack of short code, SMS gateway, Concatenated SMS or iMessage support.
Other products / brands
Lycamobile, in addition to its core business selling SIM cards, has launched a number of related brands:
Lycaworld is a service where a single connection fee allows for calls of up to 30 minutes.
Lycatel is a distinct operation from Lycamobile and is focused on the sale of calling cards to wholesalers to then sell on to the public. Lycatel offers online sales of calling cards and direct customer sales through the Lycateleshop. The Lycatel brand is not itself used as a calling card brand name, but acts as a parent brand name used on various branded calling cards. The most popular brands of Lycatel calling cards include Africa Tel, Cobra, Eurocity, One+One, Spicy Tel, Supertel, Unitel, Viper and World Call. Each calling card brand features different calling rates to different destinations with some being more suited to single use (known in the calling card industry as 'throw-away cards'). Others are more suited to occasional use but will feature a higher standard rate for each call placed. Whilst there is a fair level of confusion between pricing, Lycatel's underlying charges are significantly less than connecting international calls in a conventional sense.
The Lycatel (or as previously used "Lyca Tel") brand has been in existence since 2001 although its early ownership and operational structure were significantly distinct in the early 2000s from the present day. The present-day Lycatel brand owners and licensees form a larger organisation although the operational focus of Lycatel remains the sale of a variety of differently branded calling cards to wholesalers. Wholesalers in turn sell onto retailers who then sell primarily to expatriate customers who want to make low-cost international calls.
Lycatel primarily operates via its own national reselling companies or through its service providers in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, India (an outsourcing operation), Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States.
Lycatel currently holds a wider country-by-country spread than the Lycamobile operations, although Lycamobile has begun operations in countries that Lycatel does not currently have a presence such as Poland. Although the calling card market is generally considered to be in decline with the arrival of mobile telephony, Lycatel as a whole remains a dominant and significant competitor in the calling card market in Europe.
The Lycatalk brand is also part of the Lycatel family of brands and operates in the same jurisdictions as the calling card brands with the exception of Portugal. Lycatalk has less prominence than the Lycatel and Lycamobile brands but has a simply structured product with no set up fees or other maintenance charges. Lycatalk tariff rates are more settled and rarely vary wildly, unlike more aggressively price structured products such as calling cards.
GT Mobile (also known as "Gnanam Telecom") is a MNVO sub-brand of Lycamobile that operates in Australia, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The brand, like its parent, is aimed at those who wish to make international phone calls on a pay-as-you-go basis. The GT Mobile brand offers alternative pricing structures and packages from the Lycamobile brand.
In the United Kingdom Lycamobile uses the O2 and Orange networks (GT Mobile using only the former), and signed up 1.2 million users in the United Kingdom in their first year. In the Netherlands it operates using the KPN network. In Spain it operates using Movistar, a subsidiary of Spanish giant Telefónica. In Switzerland Lycamobile uses the Swisscom network. LycaMobile delivers voice, SMS, and data services in Australia through Telstra's 2G network.
Lycamobile's primary competitors are Lebara, Now Mobile, Vectone, and other nation-based ethnic MVNO providers. Lycamobile and Lycatel collectively employ around 4,500 employees globally—a huge expansion from its initial team, which in 2001 had fewer than 10 employees.
T-Mobile in the United Kingdom charges its customers exclusive of their minutes allowance for calls to United Kingdom Lycamobile/GT Mobile numbers, despite Lycamobile UK being headquartered in London, and using United Kingdom "07"-prefixed numbers issued by Ofcom, in the UK. By contrast, Lycamobile UK does not treat calls to UK T-Mobile customers any differently and calls are charged just as any "07" UK mobile telephone numbers.
- Lycamobile sets target of 20m customers October 1, 2010 Mobile News
- Lycamobile launches on-net service September 10, 2010
- Lycamobile in Dutch network switch - September 2013 TeleGeography
- Lycamobile adds Spain to list of operating regions October 4, 2010
- T-Mobile and Lycamobile trade insults over charges - July 2011 Mobile News
- "Lycamobile Tories' Biggest Corporate Donor", The Guardian.