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Blog Post

A New MVNO Era Has Launched

By Sukant Sharma, Senior Product Marketing Manager,

Optiva • August 16, 2023

Sukant’s career spans more than 13 years in the telecom industry. He has been a trusted advisor to global CSPs, MVNO/Es, and enterprise CXOs, helping them learn how cloud-based solutions can simplify business operations. At Optiva, Sukant focuses on the business value of cloud-native monetization solutions to enable service providers and MVNO/Es to harness new opportunities. He holds a master’s degree in business administration and bachelor’s in engineering.

The world of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) is undergoing an unprecedented wave of change. Evolving competition, consumer demand, and technological advancements present new opportunities and challenges for MVNOs. Today, consumers are willing and able to switch brands quickly if their expectations are unmet.

The COVID pandemic accelerated a shift in digital adoption; even digital avoiders have become digital savvy. More and more customers love to use apps, make digital transactions, and serve themselves. Subscribers are increasingly looking for a telco service that offers them the flexibility to choose the services/plans of their choice and delivers an enhanced, simplified, and intuitive digital experience. Rising customer expectations mean competitive pricing alone is no longer enough for MVNOs to stand out. They must focus on delivering enhanced, tailored services based on specific customer demographics, interests, locations, and more.

Delivering Personalized And Frictionless Customer Engagement

An enhanced and personalized customer experience can create real and quantifiable value for an MVNO. By offering consistent and desirable customer experience levels across all customer touchpoints, including onboarding, eSIM/SIM activation, service provisioning, payment, customer service, and support, an MVNO can unlock significant growth and profitability and acquire a loyal customer base.

The first step in delivering customer experience is streamlining the customer’s onboarding experience with fully digital onboarding. A successful example is Salam Mobile in Saudi Arabia, which offers end-to-end digital customer onboarding in less than five minutes. This includes account creation, ID verification, and service activation with a contemporary and intuitive app, delighting customers from the very first touch. In this case, first impressions make all the difference.

The fundamental strategy of successful MVNOs is to serve niche customer segments’ demands. Offering personalization and flexibility is another great way of enhancing the customer experience. Koodo Mobile, a Canadian MVNO started by Telus and targeted toward younger customers, is an example. It promises no contract commitment, a broad range of plans to its subscribers, and the flexibility to choose personalized perks plans like premium voicemail, rollover data, unlimited long-distance calling, and more to meet their specific needs while modernizing the customer experience.

Enhancing Customer Value Across Lifecycle With Data-Driven Insights

Data-driven customer lifecycle management enables deeper customer engagement, increasing average revenue per user for an MVNO. At the beginning of the customer lifecycle, the MVNO must onboard customers with simple plans and bundles, e.g., monthly unlimited/capped data, voice, and 100 SMS bundles meeting their basic connectivity needs. Once successfully onboarded, an MVNO can achieve additional customer value by offering services and OTT partner bundles such as streaming services like Netflix, YouTube, and more.

Real-time contextual insights empower the MVNO to deliver personalized offerings when the user is most interested, much like ads that follow us all once we indicate the slightest interest in a product. To achieve this, an MVNO has to understand when and where a customer uses services (e.g., data, voice, text, OTT, etc.), and then delight and retain them with AI-backed, real-time, intelligent promotions.

These might include special plans for birthdays or anniversaries or additional data at discounted rates during vacations, when roaming service is a high priority. MVNOs can build deeper customer relationships by getting friends, family, and social group referrals from their existing customers. They can then capture those additional subscribers by offering them appropriate plans and incentives while rewarding existing customers for their support and loyalty.

Using AI-Driven Customer Care

Customer support is also a major differentiator between traditional service providers and modern MVNOs. The goal is to empower customers with automated self-care and help them solve their issues easily when they first occur. From MVNO operations and scale perspectives, traditional contact center services are expensive, and most consumers dread the experience.

Today, if done correctly, customers increasingly prefer web, app, and social channels to resolve their issues more quickly. AI-driven conversational chatbots provide great opportunities to meet these customer needs while driving down customer service costs by up to 30%, according to Chatbots Magazine. One example is allowing a subscriber to receive approval to waive late payment fees in a few clicks or encouraging them to explore any new plans that might be available and relevant to them. Chatbots can deliver greater efficiency by automating tasks and managing simultaneous conversations for thousands of subscribers while improving the customer experience.

Continuously collecting and leveraging CX survey data after each interaction can also help MVNOs to get a deep understanding of customers’ intent, including risk, and serve them with personalized offers and proactive outreach.

Building An Agile Dealer Network And Collection System

A robust dealer network is critical to success. But that network must bring services directly to customers not only at physical locations but also through digital options. Beyond physical dealer stores, sales representatives should be equipped with a mobile application that allows them to sell telco services and digitally onboard customers anytime and anywhere. This application should also enable the real-time customer verification process, facilitate payment transactions, plan provisioning, and enable eSIM activation. This is an operationally efficient approach and accelerates subscriber acquisition.

Another innovative approach for attracting new subscribers is empowering existing customers to sell MVNO services digitally while incentivising them with rewards or commissions. MVNOs can offer a point-of-sale function in the customer application, allowing existing customers to become MVNO growth agents by enabling them to verify, onboard, and activate new subscribers.

Offering Innovative Value Propositions With Advanced Services

MVNOs need to differentiate themselves in the market with a clear and compelling value proposition. This means shifting from simple voice, text, and offerings from the parent company (primary MNO) to targeted market segments. Industry-oriented solutions like retail, financial services, gaming, and loyalty schemes can create new opportunities by offering eSIMs bundled with IoT devices and sensors, serving many use cases in our hyper-connected world. Proposition examples include real-time tracking services to logistics companies, real-time connected vehicle data to insurance companies who can customize insurance premiums based on driving patterns, and real-time feature usage data to vehicle manufacturers who can enhance product features.

MVNOs can also innovate by creating personalized packages to deliver a range of different data Quality of Service (QoS) and stepping up their game to deliver 5G services. These packages can be tailored to meet customer segment needs, e.g., gaming, whilst maximizing the utilization of the wholesale data procured from the host MNO.

Independence And Control Over MVNO Operations

All opportunities we have discussed rely on one very specific thing — an agile and flexible BSS platform. Swift and efficient MVNO operations that deliver a contemporary digital experience are not possible using legacy BSS systems built for a different world. This is a critical decision MVNOs must make as they consider options to use host MNOs’ BSS platforms or implementation of their own modern BSS software platform, which brings many benefits such as:

  • Enhanced control over data and privacy: BSS data is a gold mine. A BSS platform that empowers MVNOs with real-time access and direct control over data, plus the ability to integrate with AI technologies, is a game changer. By drawing insights from data, including contextual awareness, customer spending patterns, and daily interests, MVNOs can serve their customers faster with personalized plans and offers at the right time. In addition, ensuring that this data is protected against competitive threats is very important.

  • Swift and accelerated operations: By deploying a dedicated cloud-native, evergreen BSS platform, MVNOs will have access to the latest technology and remain future proof. They will also benefit from the technical, functional, and architectural expertise of BSS professionals who will keep MVNO systems up and running and guide MVNOs’ day-to-day operations. MVNOs also have the advantage of controlling downtime risk by working with BSS experts who automate and remotely monitor, manage, and take proactive action to minimize operational hassle. It is crucial to remember that the host operator will always prioritize the service of their direct customers over other users on the network.

  • Greater financial benefits: The data is clear. MVNOs who implement their own BSS platform will reduce costs by more than 30% by avoiding the BSS licensing fees to the host MNO while gaining all of the benefits.

Simply put, an MVNO’s success will depend on its ability to adapt to market changes and address new opportunities with flexibility and speed. This means a modern BSS software platform designed for a fully digital customer experience and fast time to market is the best foundation upon which that success can be built.

Want to know more about Optiva’s 5G-ready proven BSS that powers brands globally? Request a presentation.

Have feedback or questions for the author? Contact

Sukant Sharma

Senior Product Marketing Manager, Optiva


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