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    Whither MVNOs - Champions of Canadian Customer Choice  
   

November 2006 - IGB Grant 514-849-3508, Brian Sharwood 416-413-9381, & Kevin Restivo 416-619-4926

 
    STUDY SUMMARY :  
    This report looks at Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO). It examines questions such as: What is an MVNO? Why are they needed? What are MVNO best practices? We look at a number of MVNO business model examples, both in Canada and around the world.  
    KEY HIGHLIGHTS:  
   
  • Running a wireless phone service requires more than just building and connecting towers. Running a wireless communications company needs attractive customer product, targeted marketing, customer care systems and brand. MVNOs concentrate on the customer and the customer support layer. They buy the connectivity, the towers, the network, from an underlying provider.
    The MVNO can take on a number of other tasks required in the operation of a network including billing, customer care, and distribution - as well as the core MVNO DNA of brand, content and application provision. Canadian MVNOs illustrate unique perspectives and approaches.
  • SeaBoard believes that MVNO providers will have over 1.2M subscribers by the end of 2010.
  • The requirements for MVNO success are:
    • An adversarial, yet supportive relationship with underlying network providers.
    • The MVNO carriage agreement must allow the MVNO flexibility in pricing. Flexibility in MVNO business models (and provision for business model evolution) too should be a hallmark of supply agreements between MVNO and the underlying provider.
    • An MVNO should bring something apart from just ‘brand’ to the table. The more alternate capabilities, the better.
  • The underlying carrier should be enthusiastic about MVNOs as customers. The network provider should derive gain in more than just wholesale subscriber revenues. It can learn from their MVNO partners/customers; encourage your MVNOs to experiment. Provide creative, unstructured business environment.
  • MVNOs offer Canadians choice – as such the MVNO can help assuage regulatory and political concerns about the absence of choice in the marketplace. MVNOs can be a key element in carrier policy positions in the coming discussions about Canada’s spectrum policies – Canada’s carriers should do what they can to make the MVNO model a success.

 

 
   


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