© Jeff Mangione


I-New: Mobile Communications from Mattersburg for Colombia

All it took to convince the Virgin Mobile team headed by Richard Branson was a 90-minute presentation, I-New managing director Peter Nussbaumer told futurezone. "We learned of Virgin Mobile`s plans to expand in Latin America in the press, and then fought to get a meeting until we were finally granted one," said Nussbaumer.

The compact, low-cost system convinced the people responsible for the project in record time. Now, the company in Burgenland is supplying providers in New Zealand, Chile, Egypt, Serbia, Hungary, the USA and Cyprus. In 2013, Virgin Mobile will be expanding into Brazil and Mexico.

Lean system is the key
Mobile communications networks and the services that are based on them like telephony, text messaging and billing previously required highly complex and expensive systems. While many traditional network operators need giant server centers for their infrastructure, the I-NEW solution only needs a small server cabinet to provide the same services, said Nussbaumer. "The hardest part in the negotiations is convincing new customers that you can guarantee operation in a very short time with the small system and three technicians," he added.

Because of the low investment costs, offering mobile communications pays off for providers even if they only have a few thousand customers. Companies outside of the mobile communications sector can also offer custom-tailored solutions, as is already typical in the credit card industry. In Austria, the supermarket chain Spar is experimenting in this direction with its own discount mobile communications brand S-Budget, for which it is cooperating with Telering. The most successful example of such an undertaking is the British supermarket chain Tesco, which gained over two million mobile communications customers in Great Britain in just a few years with its own brand.

Peter Nussbaumer, managing director and founder of I-New, in an interview with futurezone


Customer loyalty
"For a provider like Tesco, it isn`t about making money off of mobile communications, it is about strengthening the relationship with its customers and more easily selling its own services to a broad group," explained Nussbaumer. Austria is not the ideal market for virtual providers because prepaid contracts only play a minor role here, and the prices for mobile telephony are very reasonable. "When customers in Austria get a two percent discount on their telephone charges, they already forget about it two days later. Things are very different in Africa, where mobile communications are booming," said Nussbaumer.

According to Nussbaumer, the solution that is sold by I-New is infinitely scalable. It doesn`t matter if the system is designed for a few thousand customers or, like the case of Virgin Mobile in Colombia, for 3.5 million people. Bringing Virgin Mobile on board is a milestone for I-New because the company that Richard Branson established is considered to be a pioneer in the operation of virtual networks and is the market leader in virtual networks in Latin America and many other regions.

A virtual network operator is a mobile communications provider that offers its own telephone services and that generally has its own dialing code, but that pays to use the physical infrastructure of an established network operator. In Austria, virtual providers include Yesss, bob, Red Bull Mobile and eety. As part of its takeover of Orange, 3 intends to make its infrastructure available to virtual operators such as UPC.

Cautious investors in Austria
After winning Virgin Mobile, the company and its 60 employees now hope that it will be easier to find investors and risk capital in the future. "Investors in Austria aren`t willing to take a risk; unlike in the USA, failure is not tolerated," Thomas Polak, a major shareholder in I-New, told futurezone. Polak wants to drive the expansion of I-New together with industry experts like former Telekom Austria CEO and supervisory board member Boris Nemsic. "That Richard Branson chose our technology is of course very good for our business," said Polak.


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