Which are the 3 key technologies dictating the future of Mobile Virtual Network Operators?
Today promising to deliver a single service offering is no longer enough to tempt customers. On the contrary, customers have never had such a huge sea of options at their disposal. Be it OTT, or even a McDonald’s Happy Meal, customers expect the best of all worlds. Let’s take an example of mobile subscriptions which come loaded with features like bundled OTT, music apps, health apps, job search apps, etc. This is precisely how Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) operate.
MVNOs are like tenants who rent a house from the owner, decorate and furnish it (producing their own value add through features and pricing) to attract customers who want a mobile network without being tied to a specific Mobile Network Operator (MNO). For example, an MVNO could buy network capacity from a licensed MNO like T-Mobile or Verizon, instead of owning mobile spectrum or core infrastructure, and then offer subscription services to its customers under its own brand name with unique plans, offerings, and pricing.
Your guidebook to MVNOs
MVNOs look for a quick way to expand their services as they do not own any network infrastructure, such as Virgin Mobile or Google Fi. They typically target specific groups of the population who are budget conscious – both in the B2B and B2C markets. The target audience could be individual consumers who shop at economy retail chains, such as Walmart Mobile, Target stores, or Tesco Mobile; or large-scale organisations who wanted to increase their ARPU (average revenue per user) by selling several augmented services. Recently these players have extended their services to new-age technologies like IoT in verticals like oil and gas, manufacturing, agriculture, etc.
MVNOs mandate provisioning, onboarding, servicing, tracking consumption history, charging, and billing, whilst maintaining stringent SLAs and the ever-important CSAT, and simultaneously keeping an eye for continuous improvements and innovations in the service offerings.
With the revolutionary digital transformation of business support systems (BSS), MVNOs can now provide a bouquet of services to their customers. For B2C engagements it could be an array of bundled services like OTT, music, news, etc., amounting to an increase in the subscribers on a single monthly bill. Similarly, MVNOs enable B2B players to innovate industry-specific use cases, provide digital levers, and consolidate billing and reconciliations for partners’ ecosystems.
The power-packed combo of 5G, convergent billing, and billing on behalf of
B2C MVNOs can turn these advancements into revenue opportunities by transforming themselves into one-stop shops. They can deliver customised content across multiple platforms for a diverse mix of users and services while consolidating the bill, or providing the freedom of convergent billing. MVNOs earn and explore new revenue streams from partnerships, and billing on behalf of (BOBO) streaming partners and other value-added services. An example can be Netflix partnering with only AT&T for mobile Netflix plans, making it a win-win for both parties – by reducing churn in both existing subscriptions and the acquisition of new subscribers.
The BOBO concept is not new, and it will be interesting to see how MVNOs leverage 5G to monetise the investment and bring out disruptive ways to capture revenue market share. 5G lets MVNOs develop use cases that were not practically possible in the earlier generations of mobile networks. For example, a streaming service empowered by 5G eMBB (enhanced mobile broadband) promises a dedicated bandwidth and no latency for a great user experience. This way MVNO can add more value to the subscriptions and boost ARPU as well.
5G, with its open radio access network (RAN) technology, and endless possibilities will open the telco network like no other in the previous generations. 5G network slicing can be a boon to enterprises as corporates can buy/deploy a slice from MVNOs thereby tending to their digital BSS functions, like CRM, SAP, billing, and analytics.
What’s holding ‘convergent billing’ back?
Although convergent billing is key to integrating services and providing a unified customer view, it is still an evolving process, laced with some roadblocks.
- Integration of multiple billing systems: Most telecom operators provide disparate services that are billed using separate billing systems, which may not be compatible with each other. Integrating these systems and creating a unified billing platform can be a complex and time-consuming process.
- Data consistency and accuracy: Convergent billing requires data from multiple sources to be consolidated and processed accurately to generate a single bill for the customer. Ensuring data consistency and accuracy is critical to avoiding errors and disputes with customers.
- Flexibility and scalability: Such a system should be flexible and scalable enough to support new products and services as they are introduced. The system should also be able to handle changes in billing rules, pricing, and customer preferences.
Overall, convergent billing requires a comprehensive understanding of the telecom operator's products, services, and billing processes. Successfully implementing a convergent billing system requires careful planning, execution, and ongoing maintenance to ensure accuracy, efficiency, and customer satisfaction.
With a growing ecosystem of small and medium-sized businesses alongside big corporates, everyone will try and leverage MVNO’s capabilities to maximise their subscriber base and deliver value-added services. This in turn will enhance revenue for both MVNOs and content providers and is sure to amplify the potential of MVNOs in the future.
This article was first published on Fortune India