The MVNO Private Networking Opportunity

A mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) is a wireless communications services provider that does not own the wireless network infrastructure over which it provides services to its customers.

An MVNO enters into a business agreement with a mobile network operator to obtain bulk access to network services at wholesale rates, then sets retail prices independently.

The MVNO Private Networking Opportunity

Private cellular based networking is gaining momentum globally for use cases that span energy, transportation, logistics, healthcare, mining, and manufacturing among others.

Enterprises are beginning to tap its potential with current 4G LTE infrastructure given longer signal propagation outdoors and lower latency relative to Wi-Fi.

As 5G is deployed, there will be dramatic improvements over LTE in the form of latency, throughput, and the ability to virtualize network functions.

Private networking will also bring needed operational agility in form of fine-tuning performance for specific application needs.

An MVNO may use its own customer service, billing support systems, marketing, and sales personnel, or it could employ the services of a mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE).

The ultimate success of private networking deployments will lie in the ability for it to be delivered as an integrated solution.

Consequently, Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) are well positioned to capitalize on the monetization opportunity.

Enterprises simply don’t have the competency to piecemeal cellular-based networks together, and MVNOs possess cellular infrastructure management “know how” that will be invaluable to enterprises.

Nokia Enterprise is leading private networking infrastructure enablement for service providers and should serve MVNOs that wish to create managed service offerings. If interested, you can learn more details about Nokia’s offerings on this blog.

The democratization of licensed spectrum with initiatives such as the CBRS Alliance in the United States, similar initiatives and investigations in Europe and Asia, i’d like to think Africa will be included right here and the availability of non-carrier grade private networking equipment presents a unique opportunity for MVNOs.

In a 5G world, operator leadership will be defined by innovative service delivery and not access.

Private networking is poised to improve manufacturing yields in an industrial 4.0 era, create safer workplaces, and accelerate digital transformation in a multitude of industries.

Those MVNOs that seize the opportunity have the potential to differentiate themselves and reap the financial rewards.

Types of MVNO

The MVNO Private Networking Opportunity

MVNOs are distinguished by their commitment to owning and managing the operational components of the MVNO business model, consisting of:

  • Access to basic network infrastructure, like base stations, transceivers, home location registers, and switching centres.
  • Service packaging, pricing, and billing systems, including value-added services like voicemail and missed call notifications.
  • Consumer-facing aspects like sales, marketing, and customer relationship management activities like customer care and dispute resolution.

Because MVNOs are effectively defined by their lack of spectrum licenses, an MVNO necessarily will need to have agreements in place to access the network of at least one MNO.

The type of MVNO is determined by how “thick” or “thin” a technological layer an MVNO adds over its access to its host MNO’s network.

Branded reseller

Sometimes referred to as a “Skinny MVNO”, as the reseller almost totally relies on the MNO’s facilities. They do not own any network elements, but may own and operate their own customer care, marketing, and sales operations.

Service Provider

Sometimes referred to as a “Light MVNO”. The service provider operates its own customer support, marketing, sales and distribution operations, and has the ability to set its tariffs independently from the retail prices set by the MNO.

Enhanced Service Provider

Sometimes referred to as a “Thick MVNO”. The MVNO manages a more complete technical implementation with its own infrastructure which allows the MVNO more control over its offerings. These MVNOs have a heavier focus on branding, customer-ownership, and differentiation through added services like data and SIM applications.


These MVNOs have a network implementation operating essentially the same technology as a mobile network operator. Full MVNOs only lack their own radio networks.

Chinedu Okeke

Chinedu is the founder of Nigerian Tech. He is a tech enthusiast who has the passion for emerging trends in the tech industry. He is also a professional web content developer.

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