IOT and MVNO: Q&A with Roland Becker

Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Roland Becker, Managing Director of Becker IoT dicusses the potential for IoT in the MVNO space.

What is the opportunity for MVNOs in 5G private networks and how can they make the most of this?

5G private networks are a huge opportunity for MVNOs, firstly because of their flexibility and secondly because they are able to work with alternative suppliers other than the big three (Nokia, Ericsson, Huawei). That is an important factor because I assume private LTE networks to be the first “vertical” of the telco supply market where the dominance of the big 3 will be broken.

Which verticals are primed for the IoT-MVNOs and how are MVNOs going about the opportunity?

In my view it’s not really about the verticals. IoT will be present in a lot of verticals but from a sales perspective it can be a good strategy to combine connectivity with some sort of vertical know-how or solutions partners in areas like health, Industry 4.0 or transport/logistic. More than that, I believe that the target group of IoT MVNOs are Small and Medium Companies (SME) which are not targeted by MNOs like the well-known big enterprises.

How can MVNOs create suitable IoT opportunities for themselves?

MVNOs that are already selling to business customers are most prepared to seize the opportunity of an IoT offer by just expanding their portfolio.

Traditional consumer orientated MVNOs are not well positioned but they could use their strength in customer relationship and customer management to team up with hardware suppliers and play a role as their “to consumer” enabler in a B2B2C value chain. Imagine a Kid’s watch manufacturer who needs to consider all the end customer relationship, regulatory, maybe even billing issues the MVNO knows inside out.

What is needed for MVNOs to seize IoT opportunities and what does the investment, risk and reward model look like?

MVNOs should team up with experienced IoT MVNOs and reuse existing platforms. Some of those platforms are very well prepared for a reselling structure, which means investments are minimal. In addition, customer management is much simpler compared to consumer mobile services, because it’s not so heavily regulated and service and pricing structures are much simpler. A risk mitigation model can be a step by step move up the value chain.

Based on capabilities, what role or roles can MVNOs play in the IoT ecosystem?

MVNOs are filling three major gaps which are opened by the MNOs. Number one, accessing and service small and medium size business customers: most MNOs are not really positioned to effectively do that. Number two, providing value add on the product side offering flexible management, billing and data platforms. And number three, focussing on competitive international rates which is not really in the focus of MNOs if you look at their bigger picture

MNOs and MVNOs: from competition to collaboration to expand the IoT connectivity opportunity and how must the relationship evolve?

MNOs need to realize the potential of IoT MVNOs in being a very valuable sales channel for their network capacity by acknowledging the advantages in sales, platform and intl. rates as stated above. What is missing though is a business model between MNVOs and MNOs in the IoT that offers a clear win-win in a one-to-one relationship.

You are set to speak at MVNOs World Congress 2020 in Berlin in September. What excites you most about the event? Why are you attending?

What excites me most is the focus on the combination of MVNOs and IoT because MVNOs may actually play a larger role in IoT then they do in the classic voice and data mobile business. New value chains will be defined and maybe even new players will arrive in the near future in light of emerging eSIM solutions and the unsolved IoT international roaming issue.

If you liked these insights from Roland, make sure to catch him talk at MVNOs World Congress 2020 in Berlin, 1 – 4 September 2020.

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