MVNO Basics: MVNOs, Light MVNOs, and Full MVNOs
For today’s blog post we’re keeping things simple. We’ll be discussing some MVNO basics and answering the following questions:
- What is an MVNO?
- Why are MVNOs Popular?
- What are Light MVNOs?
- What are Full MVNOs?
So, without further ado, let’s get to the good stuff!
First and foremost, what’s an MVNO?
An MVNO, short for Mobile Virtual Network Operator, is a provider of wireless communications services that does not own their own network infrastructure. Rather, to facilitate mobile connectivity for their subscribers, they purchase bulk access to network services from Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and other Network Service Providers at wholesale rates. This enables them to set retail prices independently, in alignment with the needs of their intended market segment.
Quick parenthetical: the terms MVNO and VNO are interchangeable, the latter being an acronym for Virtual Network Operator.
Why are MVNOs popular?
Big carriers have a lot of resources; but in order to develop offerings that appeal to their enormous subscriber-bases, they’ve got to compromise. Typically, such compromises lead to generic services, rigid pricing, one-size-fits-all data plans, uninspiring branding, and perpetually frustrated subscribers.
Now, from a business perspective, many of these compromises make perfect sense — if you cast a wide net, you’ll catch a lot of fish. Nevertheless, many consumers will inevitably slip through the trawl. Indeed, the rigidity inherent to MNOs means that many subscribers end up paying too much for data they don’t need or otherwise requiring more data than they can afford.
MVNOs, however, have pricing and branding independence. And, because they tend to be hyper-focused on specific market segments, they can tailor their customer service, billing support systems, and marketing and sales personnel to their subscribers. They can also combine offers with other products. As such, they can offer bespoke plans that fulfill the requirements of specific consumers (e.g. elderly, travelers, etc.) or businesses (e.g. enterprise workforce, IoT, etc.).
What’s a Light MVNO?
A Light MVNO is one that delegates their network’s operational management to the host operator (I.e. the MNO from which they purchase network services). Consequently, they can put more emphasis, and invest more resources, on customer relations, sales, branding, marketing, and customer service.
Since the Light MVNO model makes it possible to create new mobile offerings without taking on the burden of maintaining and managing network operations, it’s a great option for:
- Globally recognized brands looking to diversify their offerings
- Entrepreneurs that have identified an underserved market
This approach has enabled mega brands like Walmart and Aldi to launch their own MVNOs, capitalizing on the size of their respective customer bases, without getting bogged down by the complexities of network operations. Likewise, MVNO start-ups that go the Light MVNO route can focus on developing niche mobile offerings without fretting about how they’ll facilitate connectivity.
What’s a Full MVNO?
A Full MVNO is one that takes a more active role in managing network infrastructure, negotiating service agreements with network operators and relying on them for only the network antennas that deliver connectivity. The Full MVNO model is also used when the MNO that provides the connectivity is either unwilling or incapable of sharing their existing network infrastructure.
Broadly speaking, Full MVNOs create their own core network and infrastructure and manage their own SIM cards, call flows, SMS flows, and data flows. As such, Full MVNOs have complete control over all network services and offerings.
Whereas Light MVNOs are ideal for service- and brand-oriented businesses, the Full MVNO model is better-suited to larger telecommunications projects, including Light MVNOs considering the Full MVNO route.
Getting Started with Pareteum…
Whichever route you choose, the Pareteum Experience Cloud has you covered. A single-source MVNO/MVNE solution, it provides every component necessary for launching market-leading mobile experiences. This includes:
- Unified access to global cellular and Wi-Fi networks with intelligent network selection for unbeatable performance, cost, and reach
- Complete visibility and control via an end-to-end, portal-based subscriber and service management solution
- On-demand service provisioning
For more on how the Pareteum Experience Cloud can help MVNOs, MVNEs, MNOs, and other service providers, be sure to check out some of our older blogs:
- Pareteum Experience Cloud for Service Providers
- Tutela: US Cable MVNOs Find Extraordinary Value in Wi-Fi Offload
Want to Learn More?
Pareteum is an experienced provider of Communications Platform as a Service solutions. We empower enterprises, communications service providers, internet service providers, mobile operators, early stage innovators, developers, IoT, and telecommunications infrastructure providers with the freedom and control to create, deliver, and scale innovative communications experiences.
The Pareteum platform connects people and devices around the world using the secure, ubiquitous, and highly scalable solution to deliver data, voice, video, SMS/text messaging, media, and content enablement.