WOM, which has already caused some upset in Chile after becoming the market's fourth mobile operator in 2015, has finally launched services in Colombia with a little help from China-based telecoms software specialist Whale Cloud.
It's not entirely clear when WOM (which means "word of mouth") went live in Colombia, but the market's newest player is apparently using Whale Cloud's full-stack business support service (BSS) suite to support its new mobile service offerings.
Whale Cloud, formerly known as ZTEsoft, was a subsidiary of China-based vendor ZTE until its acquisition in 2018 by e-commerce giant Alibaba. It officially launched operations under its new name in October 2018.
The supplier has already been working with WOM Chile and said the experiences there persuaded the operator to use its BSS stack for the launch of services in Colombia. The "cloud-native and 5G-ready" BSS suite is set to support 5G and Internet of Things services as well as services targeted at vertical industries.
Notably, Whale Cloud was a Leading Lights Awards winner in 2020, picking up the award for "Most Innovative Blockchain for Telecoms Strategy."
The vendor was recognized for its blockchain-based data-sharing platform, "which allows communications service providers to share data with enterprise customers from sectors such as banking, insurance and technology."
London-based investment fund Novator Partners launched WOM as Colombia's fourth entrant in November 2020, and it said it intended to invest $1 billion in infrastructure projects in Colombia over five years.
The move came after Novator Partners acquired a majority stake in operator Avantel for an undisclosed amount.
Partners Telecom Colombia, which represents Novator Partners, is also one of six entities that plans to participate in Colombia's upcoming 5G spectrum auction. Partners already owns spectrum in the 700MHz band and 2.5GHz bands following Colombia's multi-band spectrum auction in December 2019.
Reports suggest that Colombia intends to award 5G-ready spectrum in the fourth quarter of 2021.
The arrival of WOM in Colombia has caused alarm among some of the more entrenched operators that have already lost ground to WOM in Chile. Indeed, WOM Chile managed to grab a 20% market share in its first five years of operation.
According to BNamericas, WOM aims to replicate its success in Chile by gaining up to 25% of Colombia's mobile lines in five years.
However, WOM Colombia is reportedly facing a number of lawsuits from the likes of Telefónica Colombia (Movistar) and America Móvil, which operates under the Claro brand. Claro, for example, contends that WOM should not have qualified as a startup.
BNamericas also noted that WOM faced a somewhat bumpy entry into Colombia for other reasons: For example, it had to return some spectrum because it made the wrong offer.
In addition, industry and trade regulator SIC has started an investigation into Clavostar, described as a fictitious company that Partners Telecom Colombia is said to have invented as a marketing ploy, alleging misleading advertising.
However, the news site noted that telecoms regulator CRC has ratified WOM's market status and ruled that other operators must offer it national roaming.
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— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading