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MVNO Spotlight

Posted on June 28, 2016

MVNO Spotlight

Mark Curtis-Wood, Head of Nimans’ Network Services

How easy is it for a reseller to set-up an MVNO?
I think the first thing at the top of their check list is to ask what is your outcome for doing this? The biggest reason to go down the MVNO road is to leverage your brand. That’s fine if you are an Asda or a Tesco but if you are ABC Telecom then the reasons for doing so and the power of your brand are completely different. Do you really want to explain the credibility of your mobile offering rather than leverage a network brand? I’m not so sure the arguments always stack up as we have seen recently with one network not granting an MVNO access to 4G which can have a huge impact.

Biggest market challenges
There has been a rise in the number of MVNO’s but a lot of them are specifically around international call traffic. There’s a particular brand available from off-licences and corner shops for example that have spotted a niche for certain types of calls to certain countries. We are also seeing MVNO’s popping up with dual network Sims utilising multiple network offerings. A lot of activity tends to be in the consumer market rather than the business arena in very niche ways. As a wider proposition for resellers they have to weigh up the pros and cons.

How can resellers differentiate their proposition?
You have to offer something different that customers want and a lot of that is led by consumers. In the past there was just one player but now you’ve got up to five or six operating in this market so it becomes more challenging. Lots have attempted it and it hasn’t always taken off. I can remember going to shows three years ago where they had stick-on Sim cards where you had an existing Sim card and stuck another one over the top and you could swap between the two. But it doesn’t always work out.

Where are the major channel opportunities?
International call traffic remains the biggest area of growth. I don’t think BYOD has had much impact in this arena; it’s more on the international side in niche markets. You need a particular offering to bring to market to really stand out.

How will the market evolve?
Evolution is around specialist projects. With Machine to Machine mobile data, people are inevitably utilising the networks’ technology better and more people are moving into that space, generating higher volumes. For MVNO to work you’ve either got to have an existing brand to move across to or you’ve got to have the capacity and potential to grow to and elevate your brand. Volume is key. Inevitably there’s going to be lots of volume with M2M when you are deploying thousands and thousands of SIM cards, this can leverage a brand potentially. It’s about finding the balance, do you want to piggy back on the back of the credibility of the network or explain by pretending it’s your own. There are also challenges and technological differences in the way MVNO bandwidth is managed and this is another consideration to be aware of.

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