What is an MVNO and other Mysterious Acronyms?

mvno lease cellular wireless infrasturcture from mno

mvno lease cellular wireless infrasturcture from mno

What does MVNO stand for?

The acronym MVNO is derived from Mobile Voice Network Operator, a company that offers mobile phone service without owning any of the Government licensed Frequency Allocation of the Radio Spectrum.  They in essence sublease the wireless cellular service from an MNO. A good example would be Virgin Mobile and Tesco Mobile.

What is an MNO?

The acronym MNO is derived from Mobile Network Operator and they are the companies who bid for and won the Government owned radio frequencies that are allocated for a country or geographic region of that Nation. The license invariably obliges that the MNO operate an infrastructure to run an independent and competent Mobile Phone NetworkThink AT&T, Verizon, Rogers or Vodafone.

Returning to MVNO

It’s hopefully becoming clear that an MVNO relies upon the infrastructures of an MNO to offer the public a service that appears preferable to that offered by the MNO itself. One can reasonably assume that if the MVNO relies upon the technical expertise of the MNO (it’s their satellite or towers that will be used) then it’s going to interest a subscriber by somehow offering a lower price or superior customer service. Think Virgin Mobile, ASDA Mobile, Boost Mobile, Simple Mobile, Metro PCS.

Why allow MVNO’s?

This is frequently a political decision. In many developing markets the Government, having awarded the Band License, find that the MNO have created a virtual monopoly and are not motivated to extend service to less lucrative niche’s of the market. To create an impression of competition the Government can regulate to intervene at the retail level, obliging the MNO to become a cellular wholesaler. This strategy has often  (but not always) succeeded. In fact many MNO’s have seen the marketing benefit of the MVNO concept in competition with their own retail model and have created targeted niche brands. For example in Telus Canada also has Koodo.

What are MVNO Specialist Markets?
  • Business MVNOs offering bespoke services to business.
  • Discount MVNOs providing cut price rates to targeted markets.
  • Lifestyle MVNOs focusing on specific market demographics.
  • Advertising Funded MVNO’s offering a limited free but subsidized service.
  • Ethnic MVNO’s usually targeting immigrant communities calling home.
Who are MVNO mobile phones locked on?

Mobile phones from MVNO companies are locked to their respective MVNO. They are not locked on the cellular network they sublease wireless services from. So for example a Virgin Blackberry will sill be locked on Virgin. If want to use it on Rogers Canada then you must get it unlocked to remove the SIMlock restriction. UnlockWorldwide.com provides MVNO unlocking services for most brands on most global networks and can unlock Virgin, Rogers, Vodafone, AT&T, Verizon and more

mvno unlock codes

What is an MVNE?

The acronym for a Mobile Voice Network Enabler. This is a company that offers “backroom” services to an MVNO, such as:

  • Billing
  • Administration
  • Operations support
  • IT Systems

It allows start up MVNO entrepreneurs to dramatically reduce investment cost and training time; immediate competence is a necessity if an MVNO is to establish itself in an aggressive market. It also permits the MVNO to concentrate on its core strengths which are developing brand, customer loyalty, and marketing.

In Conclusion

The free market model, notwithstanding Government ownership and regulation of the cellular airwaves, has developed a complex and ever changing relationships that serve  the ever growing communications market.

The MNO is awarded a license to invest in mobile phone, broadband, data and entertainment airwaves; increasingly a converging market.

The MVNO serves to diversify the service to special interest niche market segments by subcontracting infrastructure from the MNO.

An MVNE, having specialist technology, administrative or IT knowledge, subcontracts these support services to the MVNO.

Is being an MVNO as simple as we have attempted to explain? No, because in such an entrepreneurial and competitive market there is always someone finding a better way, a cheaper way, or a more satisfying experience. That is why mobile networks tend to promote subsidy offers on cellphones to tie you up in a long term contract. There is even a rumour that Google is planning to become an MVNO to help market its Nexus branded smartphone. Although a highly profitable business, the wireless telecom space is extremely competitive.

One thought on “What is an MVNO and other Mysterious Acronyms?

Leave a Reply