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The future of MVNOs in Australia and what we can learn from mature markets around the world

Thought Leader
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This year’s MVNO World Congress re-enforced the significant trends and opportunities for Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) to heed and help them make a difference in the mobile arena. From the burgeoning Mobile Virtual Network Enablers (MVNEs) capability to emerging market segments such as Digital Service Provision, Internet of Things (IOT) and Global Connectivity.


Being an international event, attendees came from all continents and represented the key industry players. The Congress presented many different points of view, and highlighted the different levels of market maturity and progress for the wholesale industry across the global landscape.


The European market continues to stand out as the leader given its history and competitive landscape, offering important insights and learnings for the Australian market, providing a picture of how things might look like here in the near future. 


With all the major mobile carriers on our shores offering a wholesale solution, Australia is benefiting from a competitive marketplace encouraging innovation across both current and new entrants. It’s this drive for new offerings and solutions to remain differentiated in the market that places Australia hot on the heels of our European counterparts.


Here’s where Optus expects to see the biggest changes in the coming months and years:


Innovative business models


As we’ve seen with some of our partners such as amaysim and OVO Mobile, MVNOs are increasingly adopting a digital-first approach when it comes to customer acquisition, service and overall experience.


These changes resonate with  the  ‘Millennial’ market segment who are more inclined to purchase products online, or are attracted to additional services like streaming services, differentiated content or data-heavy bundles.


In the UK some providers are reinventing the traditional telco brand value proposition - by embracing customer-first, co-op ownership approach. Under this model the MVNO is mostly owned by its members and customers (with membership costing as little as £1). The company operates by re-investing profits into expanding and improving member services, as well as in community and environmental friendly initiatives such as solar power farms.


This approach taps into ethically conscious consumer segments that are attracted by the MVNO’s vision of providing for the greater community good.


The rise of Mobile Virtual Network Enablers (MVNEs)


MVNEs provide network and IT infrastructure and support services to enable MVNOs to serve their customers in a cost effective and efficient way and there’s been a growth in this space across the globe (with partnerships now existing across all continents).  MVNEs also encourage non-telco brands to enter the mobile market quickly without necessarily owning any back end infrastructure. For example, an MNVO would work with an MVNE to provide the back-end capability for established brands in sectors like energy, banking, retail and online.


MVNEs are now starting to drive significant market opportunities thanks to the advancement in cloud based capabilities and services. Fundamentally, MVNEs are able to get MVNOs up and running more cost effectively and rapidly without the need to invest in legacy systems.


An MVNO supported by an MVNE has the potential of an effective partnership, allowing the MVNO to focus on sales and marketing, to remain nimble and dynamic in its customer interactions.


Global connectivity and IOT


As we move from a voice and SMS world to a data centric one, enabled by 4G network rollouts and smartphone take up, there will be opportunities to leverage for providers in this space such as big data and premium content.


Also with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) seeking to embed connectivity capability in their vehicles, tablets, laptops and other consumer devices in order to improve their value proposition, there is real opportunity for incremental growth in connected devices.


We are seeing MVNOs & MVNE’s position themselves to be a partner of choice for OEMs, whereby the MVNO/E focusses on securing agreements with Wholesale Operators to provide domestic network access. The aim is to enable OEM end users to access local country prices irrespective of where they may be in the world.



More reach and flexibility through broadening product portfolio


Australia’s wholesale market has benefited in recent years as a result of our digitally driven economies. To keep up with the changes in demand, wholesalers like Optus have needed to adapt their business strategies and focus on product development to provide greater customer choice.


With the focus and opportunity presented by the National Broadband Network (nbnTM) and the demand for mobile services that’s never been greater, converged or bundled plays have the potential to help current MVNOs broaden their product portfolio and offer complementary services whilst improving their customers experience and tenure.


Ultimately MVNOs who are prepared to compete in a mobile and fixed convergence environment such as the home or office needs, arguably position themselves well for business growth.


Optus Wholesale - Best Hosting Operator


Lastly, Optus Wholesale is proud to have been recognised at this year’s MVNO World Congress as the Best MVNO Hosting Operator globally. The award is a testament to our collaborative philosophy and history of strong relationships with our valued MVNO partners.


As we saw at the event, the landscape continues to evolve. While the award is  great recognition of our hard work and commitment to the Australian MVNOs, we remain ever passionate about wholesale and the success of our partners.


We will of course continue our work with new and current providers who want to make a difference and to help them reach their growth potential in the market.


We’re committed to working with MVNOs to help them achieve more, so if you want to find out more, please get in touch

By Malcolm Adams, ‎Director, Mobile & Customer Marketing, Optus Wholesale