MELBOURNE – Mystery continues to surround online retailer Ruslan Kogan’s move into the mobile telecommunications market offering low-priced prepaid services (CDN, yesterday).
The move establishes Kogan as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) – defined as a wireless communications services provider that does not own the spectrum or network infrastructure over which it operates.
Offering unlimited calls and 6GB of data monthly for $29, its prepaid offering is said to have been stormed on its first day, with some 5000 SIM cards sold.
While Kogan is advertising the service as running on “part of the Telstra network”, Telstra continues to insist that it has no contractual arrangement with Kogan.
A spokesman said it appeared that Kogan had done a deal with a Telstra wholesale customer using a different network to Telstra’s much-vaunted “Next G” 3G service.
Nor is there any access to Telstra’s 4G service. In a statement issued to CDN last night, Kogan executive David Shafer said: “The way Telstra works is that they don’t deal directly with the retailer.
So, we have an intermediary. But Telstra has communicated that they are pumped with our launch and love what we’re doing.
“Kogan Technology is declining to name its “intermediary” – perhaps because it doesn’t want to encourage other MVNO customers.
But an Australian Financial Review report suggests it might well be ISPOne, which it describes as the only reseller currently offering Telstra-supplied pre-paid 3G services – though not access to the top Next G service.
Kogan says its service covers 97 percent of the Australian population, via 6600 850MHz 3G sites. It claims a typical download speed of 550kbps-3Mbps, with 7.2Mbps peaks, and upload speed of 300kbps-1Mbps.
Those download speeds are well below Next G claims of 1.1Mbps to 20Mbps.
This appears to have been backed up by tests conducted in Sydney yesterday by ARN, which reported downloads at 4.9-6.57Mbps using a Kogan SIM card, and 15.93-20.15Mbps with a Next G connection.
The discrepancy may be inconsequential: not too many mobile phone users are greatly concerned about download speeds, and the compelling reason to buy a Kogan SIM would not be connectivity speed, but cost
Major attractions of Kogan Mobile include unlimited local calls, SMS messaging and 6GB of data per month – and prices that start at $29 for 30 days access. – David Frith