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Keynote panel on new technologies

How can new technologies enable MVNOs to gain a competitive advantage.

Insights on technology development and opportunities created for MVNOs


The industry experts explored the below insights during MVNO Nation Live 2023 event. The keynote panel focused on the technologies they prioritize, what excites them, and where they perceive the most opportunities for MVNOs.


How is the MVNO ecosystem evolving, and in what ways can new technologies enhance it?


Jacques Bonifay - Transatel & MVNO Europe: “An MVNO can only thrive in the market by bringing something unique compared to an MNO. It should not exist without differentiation, without adding value. (...)I believe MVNOs must contribute more through marketing, business model distribution, and technology. In the IoT space, effective platform management is crucial for provisioning, building, and monitoring service quality. With the shift to 5G standalone architecture, controlling the core network provides diverse session capabilities. Managing infrastructure is the MNO's role, while service delivery involves marketing and commercialization. Platform management is a key differentiator, and technologies like eSIM and 5G standalone play vital roles. Although the full potential of 5G standalone might not be immediately clear, industries like automotive express a demand for it, indicating future utility. In the evolving telecom landscape, technology differentiation has become more significant, with platform control, especially in 5G standalone, offering substantial capabilities, even if it takes time to fully unfold."


Michelle Bugner - 1GLOBAL: "I believe the MVNO industry is vibrant and thriving. This conference, with its diverse participants, attests to the industry's significance in supporting our customers. The prompt embrace of new technologies is crucial. When discussing 5G, it's currently available, and our customers express interest, although it essentially offers enhancements akin to 4G plus. Educating them on its nuances prepares them for the next steps aligned with their actual business needs."


Steven Lowe - Gamma: "We serve public sector and major enterprise clients, including the largest vehicle breakdown recovery service in the UK. Currently, we are enthusiastic about the convergence of technologies. For example, we've outfitted their vans with routers featuring two SIM slots – one with our SIM and the other with a multi-network IoT SIM. The router seamlessly switches between them based on signal strength, ensuring continuous connectivity for their devices. Moreover, we're collaborating with partners who provide augmented reality glasses. When the patrol person examines a customer's car, the glasses offer real-time guidance and, if needed, initiate a Teams call via Wi-Fi to the contact center. This facilitates a video conference where the center can see what the person in the field observes through the camera on the glasses. These real-use cases significantly enhance operational efficiency and save the business millions annually.."


Abi Pearl - giffgaff: "In our decision-making process, beyond merely listening to our consumers, we meticulously assess which needs are met and which aren't. Recently achieving B Corp status, we're committed to delivering a triple bottom line impact—on people, planet, and profit. My role involves balancing these aspects and considering the broader impact of our decisions. When embracing new technology, it's crucial not only to get excited about its potential but also to consider the future implications and identify who might be left behind or what E-waste could be generated. To truly improve, the focus should be on meeting needs and finding ways to enhance the overall impact on the industry. Our decision-making considers member feedback, unmet needs, and positive impacts on both people and the planet.”


eSIM insights


Michelle Bugner - 1GLOBAL: "The launch of eSIM-only devices by OEMs has significantly propelled eSIM adoption. This advancement enables over-the-air changes, enhancing operator efficiency and enabling quick modifications. For corporations, eSIM activation through QR codes facilitates swift onboarding of employees, eliminating storage and shipping costs. Investing in our own platform was driven by the need to address the expenses associated with shipping and storage, particularly across our nine full MVNOs, including Australia, the US, and Hong Kong. While eSIMs bring efficiency, a potential challenge lies in the ease with which customers can switch operators, compelling operators to intensify efforts to retain customers and reduce churn. Nevertheless, the durability, eco-friendliness, and environmental benefits of eSIMs outweigh potential pitfalls."


Jacques Bonifay - Transatel & MVNO Europe: "I believe the true value of eSIM lies not so much in its cost compared to a physical SIM but in its ability to enable an MVNO to digitize the customer experience, even for older individuals. This digitalization enhances the overall customer experience when switching between MVNOs or transitioning from an MVNO to an MNO. Additionally, it holds significant value in the machine-to-machine (M2M) scenario, especially with the emergence of eSIM for M2M applications."


Abi Pearl - giffgaff: "At giffgaff, we're fortunate to have a vocal community of around 4 million members who actively share their preferences, dislikes, and suggestions in our online community. Our members play a vital role in holding us accountable. (...) Our decision-making process revolves around addressing the most pressing needs at any given time, considering our lean business structure. While we initially deferred the eSIM project, we successfully launched it two weeks ago. The response from our members has been positive, with over 3,000 signups in under a week. This confirms their demand for eSIM, and while it's not massive yet, we plan to refine our approach before scaling it up for acquisition."



On 5G roll out and 2G and 3G sunsetting


Michelle Bugner - 1GLOBAL: "We are also impacted by the sunset of 3G and 2G. Concurrently, we are rapidly deploying VoLTE in collaboration with operators. Currently, VoLTE is live in five out of the nine MVNO countries. Our goal is to extend it to all nine for our direct roaming, and we already have it live with several partners. Our sponsored roaming is available with three partners. We are committed to rolling it out swiftly to avoid any negative impact on the customer experience, as you rightly pointed out."


Jacques Bonifay - Transatel & MVNO Europe: "I'm mindful that the demand from end-users, including consumers and especially enterprises, is much lower for 5G than it was for 4G. There's a significant difference. People quickly adopted 4G because it made a noticeable impact. However, with 5G, the perceived benefits aren't as evident, contributing to the slow uptake. On a different note, in markets like Korea, there's a strong demand for 5G. For instance, when negotiating contracts with car OEMs today, the focus is on vehicles planned for the market between 2025 and 2031. Looking so far ahead, there is a clear preference for 5G, even though the exact services for connected cars are not fully defined yet."


Abi Pearl - giffgaff: "What's the real need? Does this solution genuinely address that need? The challenge with things like 5G is that they often become mere buzzwords, acting as a beacon for a network's quality and speed. However, when people experience it firsthand, they are more concerned about whether it works or not, their affinity to the brand, and whether it meets their specific needs. Therefore, it's essential to consider the actual need, and if there isn't a specific use case, it's okay not to center your entire proposition around it. Instead, focus on doing what you excel at, as mentioned in yesterday's discussion. Stick to what you do well, and if other use cases emerge, adapt accordingly."


Steven Lowe - Gamma: "I believe there's a valid use case we can identify today, particularly in the context of network slicing. Although we cannot currently support it, this case revolves around rural areas experiencing poor fixed connectivity. It involves providing fixed wireless access to businesses in local communities located in rural areas, enabling them to connect through the 5G network with guaranteed bandwidth. This not only ensures a guaranteed quality of service but also positions itself as a competitor to Ethernet, potentially becoming a key use case in those locations."

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