Making the right connections can influence success and failure in life. The same can be said when attempting to connect your IoT devices to cellular networks. This is especially true in global deployments or even deployments spanning North America, as coverage and service providers vary geographically. The IoT Mobile Virtual Network Operator or “MVNO” comes to the rescue by providing connection services spanning several networks.
What is an MVNO?
MVNOs are wireless communications services resellers who can offer their customers a one-stop shop connectivity solution across multiple Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) such as Verizon or T-Mobile. MVNOs do not own the “wireless network infrastructure.” Instead, the MVNO has a “wholesale agreement” in-place with the networks that enables the re-sale of network services at independent and often lower rates. The MVNO does not have the overhead or high fixed costs associated with network providers. In the cell phone market, the MVNO allows increased value by providing its own customer service, marketing, and business operations and allows increased coverage via the flexibility of carrier switching.
Marketplace and Major Players
The MVNO marketplace is expected to grow at a rate of ~7% and become an 89 billion dollar industry by 2024. A quick search reveals a multitude of firms competing in this IoT MVNO space, including 1NCE, Aeris Communications, BICS, Cubic Telecom, EMnify, Eseye, Itron, KORE, Onomondo, Orbcomm, Sierra Wireless, Soracom, Transtel, Truphone, Twilio and Hologram to name a few.
How it works for IoT devices
The IoT and cell phone markets are different use cases, so let’s zero in on the “flexibility of carrier switching” aspect of the value proposition. During an IoT roll-out, network coverage is often unknown. Since this is the case, a flexible IoT device coverage plan is essential.
The service may not always be cheaper from a monthly use basis, but it may be overall more cost effective:
- Using an MVNO avoids individual carrier testing and validation which can be costly, complex, and time-consuming.
- Using an MVNO mitigates the contract negotiation requirement with numerous network providers as the MVNO already handles the negotiation.
- A company can negotiate monthly rates with the MVNO depending on size and units-in-operation often utilizing a shared data pool.
The use of an MNVO can enable IoT design flexibility and value that otherwise would not be possible. -Jon Hallsten.
What’s the downside?
Everything sounds great, so what are the watch outs?
- Technical assistance and support may or may not be equivalent to a network provider’s technical support.
- We have found success working with MVNO’s technical staff, but deliverables can fall behind if projects are not managed carefully.
- The risk of MNOs prioritizing bandwidth to their own direct customers
- Frequent buyouts and acquisitions in the MVNO industry may be good long term, but internal processes and staff changes can cause uncertainty and disruption in the short term. Whether or not the MVNO lives up to expectations regarding IoT deployments is unknown.
How to go about it
HI can help navigate the complex world of MVNOs and help our clients evaluate and select the correct MVNO partner. We can help walk through the process and sort out the pros and cons to arrive at the best client value.
The connections we make in life and business are often critical. HI is one connection you can count on!
We can help
When IoT projects are successful, it’s no mystery that they create direction, insights, and visibility into your organization. This can be invaluable at growing and improving business operations. However, it’s an endeavor that requires the right partner to help hone in the right solution. Our team demystifies technology and brings years of wisdom from lessons learned to help you position your business for success.
Bring Us Your Napkins! ™
Is your team thinking about solving a business challenge with an IoT solution but you’re unsure where to start?
A great place to start is with what we call a Napkin. This is a rough sketch of your idea, concept, or vision. Hallsten Innovations would be happy to review your napkin idea and provide feedback.
Please send them our way or reach out for an introductory call by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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