|Industry||mobile phone operator|
|Founded||2000, actual operation started in 2006|
|This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the Spanish Wikipedia. (March 2009)|
Yoigo is the fourth mobile phone operator with a network of its own in Spain. They operate a UMTS/3G and 1800 band network, which at their launch in December 2006 had very limited UMTS (3G) coverage even in some of the largest cities. In places where there is no UMTS coverage, Yoigo users switch to national roaming using movistar's both GSM and 3G networks.
Originally the carrier was to be called Xfera, a name reflected in its nowadays registered name of Xfera Móviles, SA. It was formed in 2001 as a consortium to compete for a new UMTS license in Spain, which finally won out. At the time, its main shareholders were French company Vivendi, the Spanish building company Grupo ACS and Scandinavian cell phone carrier Sonera (now TeliaSonera).
Yet after several technology and market problems in 2001, in line with the general launch delay suffered by UMTS technology all throughout Europe, the company was at a standstill for several years. Its only operations during that time were creating their brand image, trying to achieve an agreement with an existing network operator to act as a backup for their fresh born 3G network and setting up some base stations so as to not lose their UMTS license, which required them to have some active service prior to a given date.
As of June 2003 most of its owners were complaining about the huge amount of money they had lost in the yet-to-be-launched project, and finally in summer 2003 Vivendi—which faced problems of its own at that time—left the company by selling its shares to the rest of owners at the symbolic price of €1.
In December 2003, with the backing of the remaining shareholders, the Board of Directors decided to make an additional investment of €135 million, and opened negotiations with Amena (now Orange España) and Vodafone Spain, in the hope of using someone else's network as a backup coverage while Xfera's own network was built. Further increasing operating costs, for legal reasons the company was obliged to keep some base stations operating from 2003 on, despite the fact that the company had no actual users. This was due to the terms in the license Xfera had been awarded, and failure to comply with such terms would have put Xfera in a poor position to rebuild a network, or even to keep the license.
The remaining shareholders as of May 2005 were some Spanish companies without any previous experience in Telecoms (ACS at 34.8% of shares, Corporación Financiera Alba at 11.7%, Abertis at 8.4%, FCC at 7.5% and Abengoa at 5.4%) with technical support from Sonera (now TeliaSonera, a Scandinavian cell phone carrier) who owned a non-controlling stake of 32.2%.
Nevertheless, after years of ignoring Spanish Government's threats to have their license removed, actual operations started in June 2006, when TeliaSonera, a minority holder until then, acquired up to 76.56% of Xfera's shares and stated that they would restart building its UMTS network and start offering mobile services later in the year.
In October 2006, Xfera announced that it would launch the commercial service in December under its new brand Yoigo. The new name was chosen to reflect the simplicity in rates and ease of use of their services.
Yoigo on the market
Yoigo's operations were hastily brought to market by TeliaSonera under pressure from the Spanish government, who had seen a six-year delay in the actual use of a much-valued UMTS license. Ironically, Yoigo's president claimed they held a European record in bringing a cell company to market, since from the time when TeliaSonera had gained control to the actual date of launch only 150 days had passed.
As a result of the haste, Yoigo was basically a shell company that operated in cooperation with several subcontracted firms: Dextra Móviles for handset purchase and logistics, Seur for delivering and other companies for customer service. There was some trouble initially, especially shipping handsets and SIM cards because of discoordination between companies.
Also, Yoigo was born with largely sparse coverage of its own, relying heavily on a national roaming agreement with Vodafone's GSM network. Thus, services such as fast 3G internet access were restricted to those on Yoigo's own coverage footprint, limited to the largest cities, and others like video calling were not present at all (and continue to be unavailable as of March 2011). The coverage agreement with Vodafone was later replaced by another one with movistar.
As for the sales network, Yoigo signed an exclusive 3-month agreement with The Phone House (Spanish branch of The Carphone Warehouse) for distribution of their products in physical shops, while making most of their sales at their online shop. In April 2007 talks were started with other distributors like Carrefour and El Corte Inglés, as Yoigo is not expected to create any sales network of its own. It does have only-brand stores under the form of franchises owned by The Carphone Warehouse and other smaller groups.
However, the simple and cheap tariffs Yoigo offered (12 euro cents per minute plus 12 cents for setup fee at every call, at any time or number within Spain) plus the inexpensive data plans (0.12 cent/KiB up to a maximum of 1.20 € a day) have made it quite a success. The company itself announced having tripled their expectations during the first months from launch and credited this unexpected success for the delays experimented in shipping of orders.
In January 2009 Yoigo reached their first million customers.
Yoigo's competitors range from the three big mobile phone network owners in Spain, Movistar (from Telefónica), Vodafone Spain and Orange España, to the new MVNOs like Simyo, Carrefour Móvil, Euskaltel Móvil, Happy Móvil (from The Carphone Warehouse) and Lebara.
According to various reports, Yoigo has been experiencing teething problems with its billing department. Any normal process is carried out rapidly and efficiently, however, if intervention by their billing department is necessary, responses become slow, laborious and even defensive.
If a new customer wants to migrate from another company and keep his number, he must provide the same ID number. Otherwise this number portability process ("portabilidad" in Spanish) will fail and must be repeated. When the customer simultaneously buys a new mobile phone, as is often a feature of many Yoigo offers, the customer will be obliged to pay twice for the mobile phone and must request to be reimbursed. In many cases, customers have been waiting up to 1 year for reimbursement.
- Yoigo Home Page
- Yoigo Coverage (official)
- Yoigo Coverage (independently crowdsourced by OpenSignal)
- Yoigo Online Shop
- El Mundo Economía, March 14 2000 (Spanish)
- Xataka Móvil post on expected Xfera brand image, April 28 2007
- Cinco Días, June 06 2003 (Spanish)
- Cinco Días, June 30 2003 (Spanish)
- Finanzas.com news report, December 30 2003 (Spanish)
- AECOMO news report, may 20 2005 (Spanish)
- Cinco Días, May 5 2005 (Spanish)
- El País, August 18 2005 (Spanish)
- Press release from ACS, June 14 2006 announcing TeliaSonera's acquisition of shares up to 76,56%(Spanish)
- El Mundo news report, June 15 2006 (Spanish)
- Xfera lanza Yoigo el 1 de diciembre | elmundo.es
- (Spanish) El Diario Vasco, November 30, 2006
- (Spanish) QWI Success Case report on Yoigo and Dextra interface
- (Spanish) Noticiasdot news report, Dec 21, 2006
- Xataka Móvil news report, December 17 2006 (Spanish)
- Asociación Extremeña de Ingenieros de Telecomunicación news report, with screen captures from Yoigo website, accessed Aug 2007 (Spanish)
- (Spanish) El País, January 13, 2009: "Yoigo alcanza el millón de clientes"