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Industry Telecommunication
Founded September 2006
  • United Kingdom
Key people
Subaskaran Allirajah,
Premananthan Sivasamy,
deputy chairman
Products Mobile telecommunications services
Revenue Increase US$ 3 billion (2014)
Lycamobile signage, Garratt Lane, Earlsfield, London

Lycamobile is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) operating in 20 countries worldwide:[1] UK, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Hong Kong SAR, Tunisia, USA and Macedonia. 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.

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. In 2015 Lycamobile renewed a multi-year MVNO deal with O2 [2]

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 Pettigo Comércio Internacional, Limitada, a Portuguese holding company located in Madeira, Portugal.

Since its launch in the Netherlands in 2006, Lycamobile now has more than 14 million pay-as-you-go customers throughout all the countries it serves.[3]

Service differentiation[edit]

In 2015, PC Magazine's mobile analyst advised US customers to "take a look at some of the smaller virtual carriers which may offer better customer service or more customized plans" such as Lycamobile.[4]

On the other hand, as of July 25, 2015, the Better Business Bureau says "Due to Lycamobile's failure to respond to 28 of [46] complaints, Lycamobile's rating with the BBB is an F (On a scale of A+ to F)" [5]

Other Lyca telecommunications businesses[edit]

While Lycamobile represents the core business of Lyca, namely the offering of a MVNO telecommunications services, Lyca has other telecommunication services provided to consumers:

GT Mobile[edit]

GT Mobile (also known as "Gnanam Telecom") is a MNVO sub-brand of Lycamobile that operates in Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden, Australia, Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.[6] The brand, like its parent, is aimed at those who wish to make national and international phone calls on a pay-as-you-go basis. The GT Mobile brand offers alternative pricing structures and packages focusing more on national bundles from the Lycamobile brand

Lycatel calling cards[edit]

Lycatel 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, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States and Tunisia.

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, and its own Lycamobile products from 2007 onwards.


The Lycatalk brand is also part of the Lyca 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.


Lycachat is a voice over IP (voIP) offering available to consumers. Lycachat benefits from the Lycamobile infrastructure and should be able to provide connection to traditional telephone networks at virtually no cost to the consumer.

Other businesses[edit]

Aside from telecommunications, there are a variety of Lyca-branded business ventures. Services range from financial products and insurance services, as well as ventures into logistics and even an airline business Lyca Airways, based in West Africa. Ventures of note include the following:


Lycamoney is a pre-paid debit card offering, enabling mainly new migrants to European countries to have access to payment schemes such as MasterCard.


Launched in 2013, LycaRadio was born after the acquisition by Lyca of radio frequencies previously operated by Sunrise Radio. Lycaradio offers two stations, LycaRadio and Lyca Dilse. Both stations have retained the previous format of Sunrise Radio, targeting South Asian communities. This is also in part because of regulatory requirements imposed by Ofcom.

Lyca Productions

Lyca Productions is an India-based film production venture. To date, Lyca Productions has launched one hit movie.

LycaFly LycaFly is the travel arm of the Lyca business, & specialises in offering cheap flights and holidays to predominantly Asian destinations such as India and Sri Lanka as well Nigeria. LycaFly was launched in 2007 as part of an acquisition of an existing travel agency business. The UK LycaFly business, U Can Fly Limited, is owned by Pettigo Comércio Internacional, Limitada, a Portuguese holding company located in Madeira, Portugal. Pettigo Comércio Internacional, Limitada also owns the LycaFly brand name. At present LycaFly operates only in the UK and Sri Lanka although it is likely to expand to the same countries as Lycamobile and Lycatel respectively.


Lycaremit, launched in 2015 is the one of the newest ventures from the Lycagroup which acts as a money transfer service which allows users to send money abroad.


Country Partner network Note Tethering allowed Technology
 Austria A1 [7]
 Australia Telstra [8]
 Belgium Orange [9] No
 Denmark TDC [10]
 France Bouygues [11]
 Germany Vodafone [12]
 Hong Kong Three No 3G
 Ireland Three No 3G
 Italy Vodafone [13] No 3G
 Netherlands KPN [14]
 Norway Telia [15]
 Poland Polkomtel [16]
 Portugal Vodafone [17]
 Romania Telekom Romania [18]
 Spain Movistar [19]
 Sweden Telenor
  Switzerland Swisscom [20]
 Tunisia Tunisie Telecom [21]
 United Kingdom O2
 United States T-Mobile [22] No [23] 4G LTE
Macedonia One.Vip [24] 2G,3G

Charity Initiatives and Contributions[edit]

In December 2010, Lycamobile founder and chairman Subaskaran Allirajah, along with his mother, established The Gnanam Foundation in order to provide help for marginalised communities around the world - aiming to improve the lives of disadvantaged individuals by providing shelters, medical care and improving skills, the communities gain independence and in turn improve their quality of life and household income.[1]

One of the many projects the Gnanam Foundation has supported is Imperial College’s 2013 Raincatcher project. This involved building life-saving rainwater harvesting systems in rural Tanzania with students from Imperial College.[2] In 2012, along with the British Asian Trust,[25] the Gnanam Foundation provided a 3 year grant offering skills training to 1,500 disadvantaged young people in India.

The Gnanam Foundation also seeks to respond to humanitarian crises. During the Ebola breakout, it donated £59,000 to Save the Children to help provide equipment and supplies, such as beds, mosquito nets and medical equipment, needed to run Ebola treatment centres.[26]

Additionally, Lycamobile recently pledged to donate £1 per £10 top-up to charity without the customer losing out on any credit.[27] The charity options included: Action Aid, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, NSPCC, Oxfam, RSPCA, Save the Children, UNICEF and Water Aid.

T-Mobile billing[edit]

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.[28]

UK corporation tax and late accounts[edit]

Lycamobile has not paid any corporation tax for several years in the United Kingdom though the company put aside £9.5 million to cover "a potential liability of unpaid taxes" including "interest and penalties" in its 2015 accounts. Lycamobile's 2015 accounts were filed seven months late, appearing after Companies House threatened to strike Lycamobile off, such an action would have prevented the company from conducting business in the UK.[29] Lycamobile had previously been threatened with being struck off in 2012, its accounts were filed two years late that year.[30]

Conservative Party funding[edit]

Lycamobile is a significant donor to the British Conservative Party, having donated £1.3 million since 2011, including £500,000 in 2015.[29] They also donated use of a call centre to Boris Johnson during his 2012 London mayoral election campaign.[31]

Failure to Provide Information to ComReg (The Irish Commission for Telecommunication Regulation)[edit]

On 5 May 2016, Lycamobile Ireland Limited was found guilty of the offence of failing to comply with a request for information made by the Commission for Communications Regulation ComReg using its statutory information gathering powers. The company was found guilty in the Dublin District Court and fined €3000 and ordered to pay a contribution towards ComReg's costs.

The information requested was in connection with ComReg’s ongoing review of the wholesale local access (‘WLA’) and wholesale central access (‘WCA’) markets which facilitate the provision of wholesale and retail fixed telephony, broadband and other services.



  1. ^ "Welcome To Lycamobile Group | Learn More About Us". Retrieved 2016-06-24. 
  2. ^ "Lycamobile signs new multi-year MVNO deal with O2". Retrieved 2016-01-21. 
  3. ^ Lycamobile sets target of 20m customers October 1, 2010 Mobile News
  4. ^ Don't Follow The Leader: These Phones and Carriers Could Make You Happier
  5. ^ Lycamobile BBB Business Review (Archived, here at
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Lycamobile soft-launches MVNO in Austria". Telegeography. 2013-11-08. 
  8. ^ "MVNO launch in Australia – Lycamobile". Telstra. 
  9. ^ "Mobistar tekent mvno-overeenkomst met Lycamobile". Mobistar. 2007-02-26. 
  10. ^ "Lycamobile launches MVNO in Denmark with TDC". Telegeography. 2010-08-09. 
  11. ^ "pan european operator lycamobile launches in France". mvnodynamics. 2011-07-04. 
  12. ^ "lycamobile to launch as mvno on vodafone germanys network". Telecompaper. 
  13. ^ "Lycamobile Group targets eight new markets by Feb-14; Italian unit replaces H3G with Vodafone". Telegeography. 
  14. ^ "Lycamobile moves from Vodafone to KPN network". Telecompaper. 
  15. ^ "Lycamobile Norway settles debt telia remains active". 
  16. ^ "Lycamobile launches Poland MVNO". globaltelecomsbusiness. 
  17. ^ "Plintron enters Portugal mobile market with Lycamobile". Telecompaper. 2012-12-07. Retrieved 2014-03-28. 
  18. ^ "Mobile virtual network operator Lycamobile enters Romania". Romania-Insider. 2015-03-04. Retrieved 2015-03-04. 
  19. ^ "Lycamobile Spain - 65000 customers and counting". mvnodynamics. 
  20. ^ "Mit Lycamobile ROAMING fast gratis". ktipp. 2012-05-24. Retrieved 2014-12-30. 
  21. ^ "LycaMobile Tunisia Website". lycamobile. 2015-10-01. 
  22. ^ "Lycamobile launches us MVNO on T-Mobile's network". mvnodynamics. 2013-03-19. /
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Lycamobile launches in Macedonia". Retrieved 2016-08-14. 
  25. ^ "Lycamobile Launches Training Centre to Transform Lives in Partnership with Trust | The British Asian Trust". The British Asian Trust. Retrieved 2016-06-24. 
  26. ^ "Leading phone network donates £59k to fight Ebola". Retrieved 2016-06-24. 
  27. ^ "Lycamobile launches new UK charity initiative » Charity Digital News". Retrieved 2016-06-24. 
  28. ^ T-Mobile and Lycamobile trade insults over charges - July 2011 Mobile News
  29. ^ a b "Called to account". Private Eye (1404). 30 October 2015. p. 37. 
  30. ^ "Lycamobile is Tories' top corporate donor - but pays no corporation tax". The Guardian. 4 June 2012. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  31. ^ "Lycamobile Tories' Biggest Corporate Donor", The Guardian.
  32. ^ "ComReg -v- Lycamobile Ireland: District Court Hearing on Failure to Provide Information to ComReg", ComReg.

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