In the last few years the MVNO arena has undergone a quiet but seismic change. The traditional way of launching an MVNO was to invest $10 million and spend months negotiating with the network operator, implementing systems and processes. And even when you had done all that, you were limited in the services you could offer by the network you were using. Essentially, the old version of an MVNO was little more than a reseller.
Fast forward to 2017 and the situation is very different.
Now the most upfront investment you would need to establish an MVNO is a tenth of what it was, and you would need to wait just four weeks to be up and running.
Openet, best known for its real-time expertise, has been looking at this area for a while and has designed what they believe to be a unique solution. Sara Philpott, Executive Director of Enterprise Strategy says that this is because the advent of virtualisation has created the perfect environment. “Everything you need is in the cloud”, says Philpott, “the BSS is in the cloud, the OSS component is fully virtualised and in the cloud. Even the core network is in the cloud”.
Openet has not gone it alone with the offering but have partnered with Australian based iBOSS for the BSS side, and Telenor Digital for the network. “We chose iBOSS because the automation is awesome. They can provision a customer in seconds, and almost everything is one-touch at most”.
One of the reasons that the company has spent the time and money designing this solution is that the timing is exactly right. Virtualisation is taking the entry point down by factors of ten. PAYG pricing is diluting the risks also and making the venture far more cost effective and manageable.
“What is interesting”, according to Philpott, “is that while it makes perfect sense for Tesco and other brands to launch into the consumer space, there is a massive opportunity in the small business space”.
“The consumer market itself is pretty crowded, but the large operators cannot serve the small business, the garage on the corner for instance. I was talking to an operator in Germany and even though they have five enquiries a week from small businesses, they turn them away. It is simply not worthwhile to provide mobility services to companies that have one to five people. So, who will service that market”?
Even in DisruptiveViews’ native Edinburgh, the opportunity is very evident. It is, at the moment, Start Up Central. Yet, you can also see that providing mobility solutions to small companies across the city is exactly where BT, for instance, is not focusing. They want the larger companies and they want as many consumers as they can get their wires into.
“In fact, this opportunity is so obvious that the producers of the forthcoming MVNO Summit (Nice, 24- 27 April) have been asked to find speakers to address the issue.
The times have changed, and dramatically. If you were thinking about an MVNO as a business five years ago, then now is the time to dust off the business plan and seriously think again. Particularly if your target market is small businesses.