Mobile Virtual Network Aggregator (MVNA)

MVNA - Mobile Virtual Network Aggregator
Aggregate, comes from the Latin verb, “aggregāre”, which means, to add to – or collect into a mass or whole. An MVNA aggregates, a mass amount of data (Voice, SMS, Data) from mobile operators, and resell it to MVNOs.

The MVNA is an entity, which purchases mobile airtime in bulk from a mobile network partner (mobile network operator), and then wholesales this airtime and service to multiple MVNOs, who each in turn sells the mobile service to end-users. The MVNA acts as a middle-man between the mobile operator (MNO) and the MVNOs.

The benefit for the mobile network operator is that they can sell large discounted airtime bulk to the MVNA, without the normal associated costs of selling to different MVNOs, while the benefit for the MVNO is that they are able to obtain a good wholesale rate due to the MVNAs purchase power of discounted airtime from the operator.

The entry of MVNAs to the ecosystem has help facilitate the entry of MVNOs by making airtime process more efficient for both the mobile network operators and the MVNOs. The MVNA, is able to provide tailored offers that suit the needs and individual business models of each MVNO.

An MVNO by itself, lacks economy of scale in order to negotiate favorable pricing terms for airtime with the mobile network operators. Buying on behalf of several MVNO clients, the MVNA obtains capacity access/data from the MNOs in large bulks, which in return provides the MVNOs with economies of scale benefits, similar to any other, manufacture-wholesale-retail ecosystem.

Another benefit for the MVNOs, is that part of its business model and KPI’s are shared with the MVNA and not the mobile network operator. This adds a level of security to the MVNOs, that the mobile network operator wont copy and launch (before the MVNO) the same services or promotion packages, that the MVNO intend to launch.

The MVNA itself, will have to harness the skills necessary to conceive and build customized offers for multiple MVNOs. The MVNA needs to be able to transform the vision of each MVNO partner into marketable, functional offers, featuring an attractive set of mobile products and services.

As eSIM spreads, there will be a growing demand for MVNA-type players who can negotiate agreements between different operators that provide automatic remote service when users cross borders.

The MVNA needs to have MVNO experience, posses strong analytical skills and in-depth market knowledge, in order to understand, support – but also question the MVNOs business models, subscriber and traffic forecast, as well as maintain ongoing mobile network operator and MVNO managements.

For example, but not limited to:

  • Identify the niche and value proposition,
  • Customer Segmentation and needs,
  • Product Portfolio,
  • Tariffs, Bundles, Voucher, Fraud,
  • Advertising and Promotions,
  • Subscriber Analysis,
  • New Product and Application Specification.
  • Legal compliance,
  • Definition of sales & payment channels,
  • SIM Cards,
  • Channel, and Distribution Management.
  • Business Intelligence Reporting,
  • Bundle and promotion offer development,
  • Customer acquisitions & retention campaigns,
  • Improvement of operational processes,
  • ARPU, Churn management,
  • Best time to market (launch services),
  • Flexible and enhanced life cycle configuration.

The MVNA has the vital important partner role, guiding MVNOs’ marketing, user acquisition and channel development strategies. Many, if not most potential MVNO candidates will not readily know how to apply existing marketing or distribution knowledge to telecom.

In its relationship with the mobile network operator and MVNO, the MVNA needs to be flexible, agile and share the vision. It needs to make sure both parties achieve their goals, as the MVNA own success depends on this.

The MVNA will have to obtain flexible and competitive wholesale network agreements with the mobile network operators.

It may deploy certain elements, which allows it to execute functions for billing, monitoring and reporting, management of numbering resources, business intelligence. and other services that it requires to address the needs of multiple client MVNOs and its own business operation/optimization. The MVNA can invest in these resources directly or via a partnership with a Mobile Virtual Network Enablers or (MVNE).

MVNA License

In some markets, the national regulatory authorities have kept the MVNO license as a license for MVNA as well. This is mainly due to many MVNOs seeing an opportunity in expanding there business into reselling their access to other smaller MVNOs. There is however a range of issues using the MVNO license, as a license for MVNAs as well.

A MVNO deliver its services to end-users and is therefore also bound by consumer focused laws and protections. In addition, a MVNO must setup customer support to serve end-users – a MVNA does need to do so as in does not have end-users.

A licensed MVNO is also reaping some benefits in wholesale agreements and in some regulatory aspects that are focused on end-users not business-to-business (B2B). Furthermore, a MVNO licensee providing services as a MVNA to other MVNOs (competitors) creates conflict of interest.

Furthermore, what happens if the MVNO that is also acting as a MVNA by providing service to other MVNOs – goes out of business? Who will take over the operation to maintain connection for the other MVNOs?

Therefore, if a license is needed (in markets with licensing structure) a MVNO license should not be used as a MVNA license, but should be separated into: One license for MVNO and another for MVNA with different applications, terms and conditions.

By way of example, this is what the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) in Thailand has done. Originally, it also used the MVNO license and application process to award a MVNA license, until they realized the issues mentioned above.

Today there are two licenses for MVNO (Thin and Medium) and one for MVNA in Thailand. In the application process to the MVNA license, subjects regarding end-users and customer support have no value. Instead there are items added which is similar to those of a host network operator i.e. wholesale and access negotiation (Guidelines).creating a more favorable entry setting.


Author: Allan Rasmussen
Managing director at Yozzo. Allan is a MVNA/MVNE/MVNO specialist with hands-on experience from more than 60 projects in both competitive and greenfield markets. His expertise includes business case development, execution, launch and growth strategies. Advisor and consultant to mobile network operators, MVNA, MVNE, MVNO, National Regulatory Authorities, Government Agencies, Broadcast Companies, TMT Industry Associations, Innovation and Investment Banks.

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