2degrees is a relatively new U.S. and British owned mobile phone network player. It was originally called Econet Wireless and it first provided service on 5 August 2009. Its direct ownership is US based venture capital firm Trilogy International Partners (51.52%), London based Communication Venture Partners (25.76%), TE Huarahi Tika Trust (20.14%) and KLR Hong Kong. Earlier this year the CEO Eric Hertz and his wife Kathy were tragically killed with their private plane suffered engine failure.
It built a new mobile network using Huawei’s equipment. It has more than 1 million customers (over 20% of NZ’s mobile connections) and spent NZ$250 million building the original GSM 900 and UMTS 900/2100 network (similar to Vodafone NZ and roams seamlessly on each other’s networks). Its USP seems to be ‘NZ’s cheapest prepaid mobile network’.
It employs 760 staff and has more than 40 company owned retail stores and 12,000 resellers throughout NZ.
Last year it went cash flow positive and this enabled it to gain a NZ$165 million loan from the Baaaank of New Zealand (must remember no more Kiwi jokes) to re-engage with Huawei.
Apparently Huawei’s capabilities like USSD code (a feature to check and top up the account balance) is unique to it and 2degrees and EDGE support on 2G networks gave it the customer edge. Its flexible ‘Pay Monthly’ plan allows for 30 day cancellation. Unused time is rolled over for up to a year. Its main competitors are Telecom and Vodafone.
Acting CEO Stewart Sherriff should be happy – customer satisfaction runs very high and by inference they have learned a lot from Vodafone’s experience in NZ.
Huawei is very happy because its Chinese heritage precludes it from many countries communication’s networks.