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MNO and MVNO – When Great Partnerships Zing

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Like crackers and cheese, the relationship between an Mobile Network Operator (MNO) and a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) should be just as complementary in order to compete in saturated markets and fast changing environments. The long-standing relationship between Optus and amaysim is a solid example of such a partnership.


A MVNO is a wireless communications services provider that does not own the wireless network infrastructure over which it provides services to its customers. Instead, it enters into a business agreement with a MNO to obtain bulk access to network services at wholesale rates, and then sets retail prices independently.


When asked to describe what a successful MVNO operator might look like in Australia, Optus Wholesale Head of Marketing and Strategy John Castro says the amaysim story is a stand-out crowd pleaser.

“As an MNO, we have supported amaysim’s vision since its inception. amaysim is a pioneer of the BYO SIM proposition.  Its commitment to industry-best customer experience has seen them grow from zero to hero with nearly one million subscribers in five years.  We are very proud to be a part of the amaysim success story,” says Castro.


While some MNOs may view MVNOs as a threat to their market share, Castro is adamant that Optus is, and will continue to be, a major advocate of MVNO growth in the Australian market. He argues that MNOs greatly benefit through MVNOs as the latter enables MNOs to protect its brand identity and mass market share while enabling MNOs to leverage from MVNO partnerships into unchartered niche markets. According to Castro, Optus Wholesale believes in this approach more than any other MNO in Australia and that is why Optus dominates in this space.



We are quantifiably the market leader in wholesale mobile in Australia by miles. Our wholesale strategy is complementary because our name brand will never corner every market, but if we find partners that can, it is symbiotic – we get paid wholesale dues and the MVNOs leverage the capacity and networks investments from us. That’s the Optus wholesale strategy, and it works,” says Castro.


This view is mirrored by Chicago-based Global Management Consulting Firm, Diamond, Partner Hamilton Sekino (et al). He argues that MNOs should embrace MVNOs, as the latter enables greater reach through non-core market segments, non-traditional channels and stimulating mobile data take-up and usage.  In addition, being a smaller player means MVNOs enjoy a distinct advantage of having a greater agility to respond to new market opportunities, whereas MNOs – being a bigger beast – are generally slower to respond to the market – however, have higher budgets to drive technology innovations.


“The most successful MVNOs do not simply compete on price. They need to have a razor-sharp differentiation strategy if they are going to stand out in a saturated market.  The best MVNOs are really good at finding their ride in the market – they are the frackers of the twenty-first century. These guys need to seek out that undisturbed coal seam and wield a very sharp pick-axe,” says Castro.


amaysim CEO Julian Ogrin agrees.  At the April 2016 MVNO World Congress, Ogrin also expressed that the major challenge facing Aussie MVNOs in the next five years is differentiation.


“amaysim is the customer experience champion. Increasingly our customer experience will set us apart from the local carriers. Our online-subscription and account management mindset (like the UBERs and Spotifys of the world), combined with our mission of making all customer touch points amazingly simple, is making all the difference and something we’ll look to focus on as the month-to-month SIM only segment of the mobile market continues to grow in Australia,” says Orgin.


All amaysim mobile and data plans are powered by the Optus Mobile Network, which covers 98.5% of the Aussie population. amaysim’s new range of 4G plans is powered by the Optus 4G Plus network, giving customers faster data speeds in more places than ever before. While Optus maintains its world-class networks, amaysim can get on with the job of focussing on its online and mobile customer support and account management. And the results of the partnership speaks for itself – with ninety-five percent customer satisfaction ratings through amaysim’s Live Chat channel.


“We have a strong and solid partnership with our carrier Optus. Ensuring solid wholesale relationships in addition to maintaining nimble and asset-light operating structures will spell the difference between those that achieve scale and those that don’t,” says Ogrin.


Creating strategic partnerships, like Optus and amaysim, is a classic example of when providers team up to deliver a great customer experience – which means everyone can dance to their own tune, without stepping on each other’s toes.


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