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Tackling MVNO IoT expansion challenges

A step-by-step guide to some of the IoT issues you need to consider.

A step-by-step guide – by Thomas Brandt-Knudsen, CCO & Partner, Cobira, Denmark – to some of the issues you need to consider as you embark on you MVNO IoT expansion journey:

1. Know if your customer is ready

For commercial, technical or organisational reasons, many customers will be at a stage that is too early to expand into IoT, meaning that there is a risk that they are wasting your time. At Cobira, we made a checklist that assesses if the customer really knows what they are doing.

We also started turning the problem into an opportunity by selling certain IoT services on top of connectivity, which is what we typically handle. If our customers don’t succeed in going to market, we may sell some SIM cards, but they will never use any real airtime and, ultimately, that’s what we’re here to offer. This new approach means that we get to tap into some of the revenue streams on top of pure connectivity.

2. Troubleshooting connectivity – what to do when it’s not reliable and/or too expensive

From what we at Cobira can see, most of the regular MVNO contracts are not suited to IoT at all. What’s more, we’ve not felt much love from MNOs around the world. There are of course exceptions, but many mobile operators are not embracing IoT connectivity based on roaming. And the Covid-19 situation has in some cases revealed permanent roaming SIMs – these are of course typical in IoT as nobody has been able to travel. In order to counter this, we made global deals with multiple IMSI-donors and partners. Crucially, we made sure we got the right deals in writing. These contracts will be vital and will ensure, for example, that you’re allowed to do permanent roaming. We also created a platform to customise the connectivity profile for the given use case so we can handle it to the best of our ability.

3. What to do if your MVNO contract does not support IOT

Many regular, local MVNO agreements aren’t suited to IOT from a technical POV. If you don’t have proper control, you don’t have security. And commercially, the agreements can be expensive and not flexible enough in order to create the right value proposition for IoT connectivity. At Cobira, we solved this by creating a dedicated platform only for IoT, and by aggregating a number of operator deals into this platform. Essentially, what we urge people to do is to keep their existing MVNO platform and then add a dedicated IoT-MVNO platform right next to it. This means that you can still sell your services to your end customers, but from two platforms. The benefits of doing so are vast, and include a real-time rating, reduction in fraud, no IoT traffic on the open internet, competitive pricing and flexibility; we can sell in pool, packages and PAYG, and perhaps most importantly, this approach offers our customers freedom to leave and have another provider take over.

Take Note

• Consider a checklist to assess if your customers are ready for IoT expansion

• Get the right deals, and get them in writing

• Without proper control, you don’t have security

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