Now that MVNO has to mean more than being a simple reseller, differentiation is critical. Price itself is a commodity and no way of differentiating your services – you have to provide innovative and compelling reasons why customers would want to sign up, and stay with you.
As Robert Machin, Market Analyst with Openet says, “to be profitable, and more importantly to attract market interest and build market share, an MVNO either has to be selling something different or doing something different – ideally both”.
The options have expanded dramatically in the last few years, and with the drop in entry level investment (setting up an MVNO now costs a tenth of what it did a few short years ago), the market is wide open.
While some of the options are around conventional promotions, bundling and loyalty offers, there are many others – including brands using the MVNO to leverage awareness of the corporate brand.
One that Machin is particularly keen on is based on greater exploitation of the device itself. For many, the device is central to their lives, even when, curiously, the operator, virtual or otherwise, isn’t. “For many subscribers, their service provider has become more or less invisible”, says Machin, “a business that they engage with at registration, renewal and when they are having problems. Other than that, all they see are occasional dry SMS messages, advising them of new products, roaming tariffs, excess usage and so on”.
This is hardly engaging for customers.
Openet has recently teamed with a company called MadMe that opens opportunities for MVNOs to innovate on the device. Essentially it allows operators to use the handset more effectively, “as a kind of enterprise-managed consumer portal for adverts, promotions, vouchers, customer service and more” says Machin.
By providing a greater focus on the handset, MVNOs can get much closer to the customer and the potential to improve the customer experience is back in their hands.
In the days when MVNOs were little more than resellers, vendors used to sell the idea of a ‘telco in a box’. To address the new opportunity, Openet have gone one step further and developed a Telco as a Service (TaaS) which goes well beyond basic functionality to provide a range of differentiating options off the shelf. As Machin’s colleague Sara Philpott says, “everything you need is in the cloud. The BSS is in the cloud, the OSS component is fully virtualised and in the cloud. Even the core network is in the cloud”.
It’s an approach that essentially combines CSP functionality with ISP agility. It provides an open platform that allows companies to work with third parties, while using Policy Control techniques to provide relevant offers and create a better customer experience. It gives control of the device to the service provider.
Some of these ideas will be discussed and presented at the MVNO Summit in Nice next week. Openet will be there, and Robert Machin and Sara Philpott are looking forward to some lively conversations.