Lycamobile is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) based in the United Kingdom and operating in 23 countries. Being an MVNO means that Lycamobile is dependent on the infrastructure of other Tier 1 telcos to offer its services, thus, in each country they operate, Lycamobile requires a telco partner. According to Communications Authority of Kenya records, Lycamobile has had a license to operate as an MVNO in Kenya since November 2015, what delayed their launch to this year is still a mystery.
A credible source has revealed to Techweez that Lycamobile plans to officially launch in the country sometime in April this year. Lycamobile is well-known for its focus on low-cost international calls with its pay-as-you-go SIM cards. Last year, the company mulled their possible launch in the country but went silent after that. “Launching an MVNO in a new territory is a long and complicated process, with a number of factors involved. Whilst we have made great strides already, there are still a few stages left to finalise before we can announce the launch of our services in Kenya,” said Lycamobile in a statement, in March of 2017.
In Africa, Lycamobile already operates in South Africa with Cell C as their telco partner offering 2G/3G calls and data services to consumers. It is not clear whether the company will implement a similar approach in Kenya but we can speculate that they will piggy-back on Airtel Kenya’s infrastructure.
Seeing that Lycamobile’s forte is affordable national and international calls, it will be hard to predict how the uptake of the service will be locally, seeing that most people are slowly adopting the use of the internet to make calls and send messages through services such as WhatsApp.
In related news, Homeland, a locally owned MVNO, was also set to launch towards the last quarter of 2017. The owner, Joe Mutambu, a Kenyan Politician, spoke to Business Daily back last year acknowledging that they had faced challenges getting interconnections with current telcos. Homeland was supposed to offer Kenyans Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services at a monthly subscription rate of between Kes.1,000 and Kes.2,000.