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The Future of MVNOs

This past January I wrote of all the predictions about what was going to be in store for MVNOs in 2022 and beyond. So far we have seen incredible continued growth from both Charter (Spectrum Mobile), and Comcast (Xfinity Mobile) with over 7.2 million wireless subscribers. And then there's Altice trying to sign with T-Mobile and Earthlink joining the MVNO space through Ultra. Now, cable operator WOW with 845,000 broadband subscribers announced their intentions into the MVNO game through Reach Mobileand Mediacom (1.5 million subs). According to Light Reading, they are "actively evaluating whether a compelling business case can be made for offering a Mediacom-branded mobile-phone service.”

Speaking with David Strauss, Principal at Broadband Success Partners, a consultancy dedicated to addressing the technology, operations, finance and go-to-market needs of service providers, and he indicated that “the success of the Tier 1 MSOs and latest news from WOW and Mediacom are ample evidence that cable companies, large and small, should seriously consider a mobile offering which benefits their customers as well as their bottom line. As a marketing executive who worked in the wireless sector in the 1990’s and has been in the wired sector since 2006, I’m excited, but not surprised, to see these two worlds come together.”

While these cable companies are going after the traditional Business-to-Consumer model of grabbing wireless subscribers to compliment their current broadband offerings, a new, possibly lucrative market is emerging in the IoT field as I mentioned last month (“IoT centric MVNOs will continue to grow as the industry forecasts 25 billion IoT connections in the next three years”).

IoT is Here to Stay

I recently read a truly interesting perspective from Deloitte US, entitled Evolving Digital Realm Offers New Life for an Old Model. The authors do a tremendous job in outlining steps that current MVNOs as well as new players need to do in order to be successful in the changing landscape. Specially that, “the new vision of connectivity and packaged offerings now focuses on specialization, vertical integration, data-driven capabilities, and the customer experience."

The article goes on to list and explore the areas that must be part of their touch points that customers will expect with focuses on:

  • specialization

  • vertical integration

  • data-driven capabilities

  • the customer experience

If you’ve been keeping up with me over the past year, I’ve stated that new MVNOs need a differentiator, or what Deloitte in their article calls specialization. We are both on the same page. They also echo another familiar theme that I have been putting on these pages such as creating and delivering value to their subscribers, whether they be traditional voice/text/data customers or newer, IoT and data-centric users.

Many MVNOs are already in the IoT business, from alarm and monitoring companies to those who track shipments, they just haven’t put the IoT tag on their activities yet. This is an area where you, our incumbent MVNOs have a first mover advantage and years of experience in dealing with the MNOs. T-Mobile recently launched T-IoT and you can bet that AT&T and Verizon are not far behind.

Are You Getting Your Piece of the Pie?

I am currently engaged with three organizations that are new to the MVNO space. All three have different needs and all three have reached out to Atrium Unlimited Consulting because while they each have customers who have evolved to needing wireless connectivity to operate their businesses, they simply don’t have the wireless and mobile experience know-how to support new, data centric needs that their customers are demanding. Large scale shipment tracking, non-traditional customer bases and managing the day to day activities of very demanding and mission critical needs are just a few of the things that they are asking for. With most MNOs asking for large revenue and subscriber commitments, these type of companies are sometimes better suited to go with a current MVNO (like you!) or an aggregator that T-Mobile has embraced.

To reiterate, have you spoken to your carrier about IoT rates for solutions like these or Machine-to-Machine type opportunities? Are you simply watching the landscape change or actively pursuing the business? Many analysts state that the traditional wireless offerings are a “race to the bottom” with rates getting cheaper each month and 1GB, 3GB, 5GB and unlimited becoming a commodity like voice and SMS.

As the Deloitte perspective states, “With robust wireless networks across much of North America today, connectivity is no longer the differentiator that it used to be. Operating effectively in the MVNO space requires an ability to innovate—to move faster and more skillfully than the competition, bringing forth new technology, new functionality, and new business models.

Let’s work together to explore new markets, innovate and execute on new opportunities and continue to be the agents of change vs. letting new entrants on to our playing field.

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