opinion


Shaping the Global MVNO Market

smartphone data

The MVNOs Series asked mobile market movers and shakers from across the globe their opinions on the key trends shaping the MVNO sector in 2018, the challenges, opportunities and what their priorities and aspirations are. The result is an authoritative account of how the industry is continuing to evolve across different regions, and where those best placed to know expect it to head next.

In the report ‘Shaping the Global MVNO Market’, we have combined the results from the annual MVNOs Series survey with the opinion and insights from a range of industry figures. With representatives from Europe, Asia, North America, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, this report offers a global snapshot of the current state of the mobile market. As well as mobile virtual network operators, the respondents to our survey include MVNEs and MVNAs, vendors and MNOs, OTT and cloud service providers, providing a complete picture from across the value chain.

If there is one theme that can sum up the state of the MVNO industry in 2018, it can be explained in a single word – change.

Throughout 2017, MVNOs and the mobile industry in general were buffered by winds of change blowing from several directions. Changes in regulation, changes in technology, changes in market demand, industry participation and business models created challenges for companies the world over.

Change is also creating new spaces in the market, providing operators with opportunities to diversify revenue streams and modernise operations. In Europe, the abolition of roaming charges with the introduction of the EU-wide Roam Like At Home directive represented the single biggest regulatory change in the world’s most mature MVNO market for over a decade. The loss of revenue from roaming has hit margins across the value chain, with MNOs re-doubling their focus on retail markets and squeezing prices to make up for lost income.

In Mexico, meanwhile, another major regulatory intervention saw the launch of Red Compartida, the world’s first wholesale-only national network. It is hoped that the move will finally break the stranglehold the country’s three biggest MNOs have on the mobile market and allow the MVNO sector to take off.

The world’s most mature MVNO markets, in Europe, North America and parts of Asia, have experienced intense price competition for a number of years. As more and more emerging markets transition from voice to data-led revenue streams, this is becoming a global phenomenon, driven partly by pressure from OTT players offering value-added services.

Yet there is no shortage of optimism about the opportunities that lie ahead. Plenty of stakeholders are planning to roll out new MVNO brands in the short to medium term, invest in global expansion, and perhaps most significantly, prioritise moving into new markets and verticals.

Given the changes sweeping the industry, it is perhaps no surprise that 25 per cent of respondents to our survey named new business models as the trend they most wanted to hear more about in 2018 – the most of any single category. In particular, the ability to adapt operations to find new revenue streams from value-added services, moving away from pure connectivity, is viewed as critical for the future success of the MVNO market.

There was no shortage of consensus as to the main force both driving these changes and opening up new opportunities. Taken as an aggregate, more than half of our survey respondents named technology as the most important topic that would shape the industry in 2018.

Just under half (48.4 per cent) named IoT as the technological innovation that would have the most impact, followed by eSIM (20.3 per cent). More than two thirds (68.8 per cent) said they would be investing in new technologies in 2018, also including the likes of FinTech, blockchain, 5G and AI.

Download the full report for an in-depth analysis and to learn what the industry leaders had to say regarding the key challenges and opportunities shaping the industry.

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