VIDEO: New MVNO Melon Mobile readies to launch

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 11 Apr 2023

Melon Mobile, a new mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), is set to launch on Thursday.

So said Calvin Collett, founder and CEO of Melon Mobile, in a video interview with ITWeb last week.

The MVNO piggybacks on MTN’s network, and according to Collett, the new operator is looking to shake up the local MVNO space.

Collett is no stranger to South Africa’s telecoms space. He was founder of Supersonic, MTN’s fibre service provider. He also founded iConnect, a company that offers voice over internet protocol services.

An MVNO is a wireless communications services provider that does not own the wireless network infrastructure over which it provides services to its customers.

Typically, an MVNO enters into a business agreement with a mobile network operator to obtain bulk access to network services at wholesale rates, then sets retail prices independently.

In SA, Cell C has historically led the MVNO market, with players such as FNB Connect and Mr Price Mobile, among others, piggybacking on its network.

“We are an MVNO running off the back of the MTN network. What we have done differently is to focus on a purely digital journey. It’s app-based; most of the support, such as self-RICA, is done online. There is no physical paperwork or anything like that. We have tried to digitise the whole journey,” said Collett.

“I think the most important thing to note is that we also have people in the background who offer support. So, the front-end is all digital to make sure you can support yourself, but if you can’t, you can call a call centre where actual people will assist.”

Calvin Collett, founder and CEO of Melon Mobile.
Calvin Collett, founder and CEO of Melon Mobile.

He said Melon Mobile allows customers build their own flexible mobile plan. “If you go to the app, we have got sliders where you can choose the amount of data you want, the amount of voice you want and the amount of SMSes you want.

“It’s not a prepaid or postpaid solution. It’s a subscription – think of it like Netflix, for example, where you choose the subscription or package that you want and then you can change it at any time month-to-month.”

Collett noted 1GB of data costs R60 on Melon Mobile.

Describing how he decided to launch the new MVNO, he said: “We started this journey officially on 1 April 2022. It’s been a hard journey and a lot goes into a project like this. The thought behind this obviously started a long time before then.

“Internationally, there are quite a few digital MVNOs out there. I think what we have done is completely different, but the original concept stems from international roots.”

He pointed out there are just over 100 million SIM cards in SA at any time, and Melon Mobile is targeting 0.5% to 1% of the market share over the next five years.