Showing posts with label LTE MVNO. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LTE MVNO. Show all posts

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

MVNO World Congress Pre Conference Workshop 2015

2015 Pre Conference Workshop - MVNO Marketing

I had the pleasure of running the MVNO world Congress pre-conference workshop in the 2015 #MVNOIS, so as we run up to the 2016 MVNO event in Amsterdam its probably time to upload some of the slides to give you an overview and share some of the experience.
2015 #MVNOIS Pre Conference Workshop 
The workshop was in three parts, this is the first part that focussed on MVNO Marketing, which in my now 16 year of doing MVNOs, is the hardest hurdle after the MNO agreement and MVNE plus all the other service provision contracts selection. The second part focusses on MVNO Data.
2015 #MVNOIS Pre Conference Workshop topics covered
I Will cover the MVNO Data services, MVNO International Roaming, and MVNO Multi-IMSI points in the next few days / weeks running up to the 2016 Conference, as these areas are key, if not the key way an MVNO can differentiate itself from other MVNOs and moreover its host MNO and grow scalability in a competitive mobile market.
An Activity every MVNO should do almost daily!
The first task was to name 3 Big MVNOs that the audience think market themselves well. This is important on many levels.

  • Firstly, if there are none of them in your market you need to ask some serious questions about why and make sure you are not repeating any of their mistakes! 
  • Secondly, it is where MVNOs most differentiate themselves at conception, but most easily compromise on in launch... and to be honest, from there they often never launch and/or never become successful. 
To be a successful MVNO you need to be able to easily access all the needed data on your customers, process this and send targeted below the line packages at them. The key here is that they are below the line, competitors do not see them, customers love and recommend them, but your competitors do not copy them. I want you to think about this as you go through the slides, and I add my 3 top MVNOs further down.
This is sadly where a lot of marketing time is wasted by MVNOs - above the line copy cat price competition - why?
Most MVNOs develop what I cal a bi-polar frankenstein approach to Marketing.

  • Bi-Polar as they flit between being slightly cheaper that their most expensive competition, to undercutting the cheapest offer from the biggest MNO in an instant. 
  • Frankenstein as the first marketing and even product set, is usually stolen from every MVNO that has ever existed in 5 countries, over 3 MVNO models in 6 different niches... and the result is, well usually awful! 
The way MVNOs market is by sending bespoke offers to their customers that will never be on a slide, as they arrive via SMS and the offer is only available to those customers, or other customers of the MVNO. To do this you need ready and quick access to data:

  • who do they call? 
  • what time do they call?
  • what handsets IMEI/MSISDN database are they using?
  • what locations are calling from frequenting?
  • what locations are they running out of credit?
  • where are they topping up?
  • how much and how often are they topping up?
  • what top-up channels are they using?
  • what type of data are they using, where and how fast?
All this is in the CDRs, GGSN and HLR, and needs to be available to the OCS needs to be fully integrated with this, as well as a tool to bulk SMS, and report who has what SMS, as while you will be marketing daily, its not good to market the same customers more than a few times per month for obvious reasons.
"If you cannot name 3 MVNOs from your territory that do this well, its most likely that they do not have access to this data, and if you do not, then you will not be a leader either" 
MVNOs are a Sales and Marketing organisation. The best ones have great BI and change pricing flexibility 
OK I jumped a few slides here on refining product and marketing, however this slide leads on well from above as well as: When an MVNO examines its subscriber acquisition costs (SAC), ARPU and Churn, it very quickly sees that MVNO led customer to customer and MVNO to customer led marketing obtain customers cheapest and keep them the longest. It is important to have a mix of SAC but these need to be kept down to grow successfully as an MVNO.
Choose and adapt from successful MVNOs, but avoid "Bi-Polar / Frankenstein" campaigns! 
Draw on what has worked and what is (see previous slide) is in budget. EE recently did a huge above the line campaign with Kevin Bacon, which is beyond any MVNO marketing budget, however its OM4G and 4GEE twitter coverage was cheap and genius and well within MVNO budgets.
Back to the three MVNOs from the activity above, go through these points.
In my workshop I then went through the above key points for three MVNOs I think market themselves well. My examples were deliberately different: Lyca Mobile, Virgin Mobile and Tesco Mobile; the key being that while they are very different MVNOs in very different segments, theirs USPs focus on points that the MNO and other MVNOS find hard to copy, they deliver what they promise without extensive T&Cs, and typically their most successful packages are no where near as cheap, nor anywhere near as expensive, as the cheapest / most expensive MNO offerings of the "Bi-Polar" approach to pricing.
My most copied slide! The MVNO must evolve its marketing to launch successfully and then grow
Which brings me to the last slide of the Marketing section, and my most copied slide. Every MVNO that has been successful has evolved through these stages, many that have failed have failed to adapt, either because.

  • They just did not evolve. Some ethnic MVNOs started with a multi-language USP, but as customers learn their host country language the product needs to evolve, or the countries expand.
  • They could not evolve technically as they were tied too much into their host
  • They could not evolve operationally - if the reporting is manual spreadsheets... you are not going to market successfully beyond early adopters.
When launching an MVNO you can get by with the basic tools that an MVNE and the host MNO gives you, as long as this includes: CDRs, IMEI, HLR location of LUs, all transactions, collated top-up info, SMS marketing tools and reports, reconciliation, GGSN logs, etc. These need to be accompanied with the ability to update data settings OTA, edit the SPN OTA, change tariffs real-time, etc, etc. and usually require another 10-20 services to be sourced and integrated to move beyond early adopters.  These are the keys missing from failed MVNOs or underperforming MVNOs.

I hope you find these slides useful and informative. Feel free to paste these slides into your own presentations, as many do, but of course please do the basic common courtesy of quoting where the content is from if you do change the appearance and/or remove any logos, watermarks, etc.

Monday, 11 May 2015

NFV cloud MVNO conference 2015

Cloud NFV MVNO MVNE round table #MVNOIS 2015

As the first on some hopefully more views from the #MVNOIS conference 2015 in Nice, here is a quick note on the round table I was dragged onto by Informa due to having being building a fully cloud based NFV MVNE platform for the last few months. Google's project Fi has brought a lot of this to the forefront as global MVNOs and multi-national roaming require NFV and cloud MVNO.

NFV MVNOs and MVNEs making way for more disruptive, flexible, global / local mobile services
The round table was interestingly represented by HP (whose servers we incidentally used for our cloud NFV MVNE) Oracle (think Tekelec, ACME), Syniverse and Yaana, which gave us a very good panel of people in the industry in the security, law enforcement, hardware, software and cloud services space.

The most interesting outcomes were as follows:

NFV Cloud MVNO makes it easier and good for Global

One of the key take aways was the fact that NFV and Cloud makes it easier to roll-out and scale MVNOs and MVNEs nationally, and internationally. I can relate to having built international MVNOs and MVNEs - having to chose, MVNA / MVNE, full MVNO or Build Transfer Operate MVNO model from the beginning, possibly having to throw away one or more of the platforms and re-issue MVNO SIMs if you get it wrong is a big challenge. Similarly, so is global expansion: having to use one platform in one territory (e.g big/full) and another in another (e.g. small/MVNA) is just not good.  

NFV cloud essentially brings IT plus Telco together: good for LTE & WiFi

In the good old days you had to buy lost of boxes to run a mobile network, then lots of boxes to run a wi-fi network - if you wanted to make them work together, you needed more boxes, more integration... NFV Cloud lets and MVNO or MVNE run all / mots of its services on a virtual machine, as well as the wi-fi management. In pure LTE terms this means an radius and diameter on the same boxes, same network: think lower latency

NFV cloud MVNOs and the eSIM

Previously a lot of MVNOs got into trouble, if they were ill-advised, by not putting the right provisioning, activation, and SIM management processes in place from the start, which can be very costly as the MVNO grows: many believe a SIM costs less than a dollar, which it does in terms of the 'plastic', but the association of this SIM with a mobile core, OSS / BSS, CRM, BI, etc systems is at least ten fold if not more. An MVNO usually only orders a few hundred thousand SIMs max up front; eSIMs however, due to the large up-front volume, mean next generation MVNOs and MVNEs are having to look NFV and cloud based to be cost effective. Period.

NFV is more disruptive

NFV essentially separates out the hardware from the software, meaning that costs are contained, distributed, transparent and delivery / transition is simpler, quicker and as local / global as required

NFV is not pure cloud and still needs localisation

The biggest misconception that brings walls and heads together is the concept that you can run this anywhere: the truth is that a lot of it you can, and as we move to LTE and away from legacy signalling and media we will - but the truth of the matter is that certain services mean locality is essential: HLRs and HSSs often need to keep data protected in a certain area and GGSNs  / PG-Ws need localisation to avoid latency, then there are security, government intervention and other issues to consider. 

NFV is about standardised hardware

a common view / misconception about NFV is that its all virtual machine and cloud, but a key component is the ability to break out from the virtual environment on standardised hardware when necessary. A great example was from Oracle where they have had to break-out voice encoding into a standard non virtualised machine. We have found this with certain media drivers as well. The key here is that: you have all that is possible on a, for example HP server(s) but the voice encoding needs to go native: then you add another, in this case, HP box of similar specs, with more or less known specification, most likely the same drives, memory, SAN, etc. and have it running voice outside of NFV. 

Friday, 26 September 2014

Driving effective data revenue and reducing cost to serve MVNO

Well it has been a while since my last post, but I have been in the thick of working with major FSTE, NASDAQ, AIM and other quoted MVNOs and would be MVNOs and its difficult to blog when you are dealing with sensitive work, especially when a person on a team from another consultancy who shall remain nameless spreads rumours that you may have published the MVNO marketing strategy on your blog but failed to notice the post was from 2 years previous to even working with them :). Well done that man!

So, this post is about two critical points of being a successful MVNO and how this can be easily achieved in today's major trend for growth, and to publish some slides on the point that I presented back at the MVNO Dynamics London event earlier this year, those of you who attended will already have this presentation and heard it live.
Presentation originally done at
We have been building MVNOs for longer than anybody out there and seen all the trends, from international voice to SMS and now data is taking another surge. With each new surge comes problems, as wholesale generally follows a second wave on raw material costs (in this case wholesale data rates) and has to deal with "me too" and "mass market" customer issues without usually having thousands of staff and retail stores to absorb (and hide the true cost) to serve this mass market.
Virtuser has been doing MVNOs longer than anybody; we have seen all the trends come and grow! (go) 
Just a brief history of how we got here. We do not just do MVNOs, we have also done a lot of mobile apps and mobile app stores for the likes of Nokia, Vodafone, Telefonica and more. We enable the world's first OTA distribution for specific handsets, the worlds first mass distributed apps and the worlds first Cloud based service sending our now competitors' OTA settings. We started doing our own settings when our clients were disappointed at the poor (30% to 40%) success rate of the standard OTA settings profile. We are still seeing this today where static OMA Alliance settings are sent.
We understand the full 360 of mobile data and MVNOs better than anybody; and this shows in the quality of our OTA
There are two critical points therefore in enabling data revenues - First you need to get the right settings easily on the handset, MVNO APNs do not generally come on a handset, as MVNOs do not buy nor subsidise handsets on mass, so you are stuck with OTA or "over the Air" configurations, but not all settings are created equal. In the old days they were all send by SMS, but handset fragmentation has meant that there are multiple ways depending on the device OS
Static OMA Alliance settings are only 40% to 50% effective, and create a huge cost to serve burden. the average MVNO customer care call for MVNOs in the UK is around £4!
Furthermore this is compounded by different versions of OS having different OTA experiences. Some of our competitors started using mobile apps to configure phones back in 2010 in the aftermath of the "app boom". however our work with mobile apps and mobile apps stores had taught us a few things the main one being that while mobile apps maybe mainstream, a very large proportion of smartphone users still get someone else to load and install apps for them, or do not download them at all.
The user experience of a previous client using standard OMA alliance static settings
Even if you do stick to standard SMS, you should never use a commercial SMS gateway, but if you do go for high quality over costs and do a huge amount of testing, as we can see here the character set was causing the OTA link to fail, after the customer had been forced onto a computer, to enter the phone number, incur and SMS, then for nothing... what will this customer do? call you call centre and cost you probably more than you earn in profit from them in 1 to 2 months!
Having worked extensively on MNO and MVNO data revenue driving initiatives we understand the importance of 3 clicks!
You should never have a data enabling service that means the experience varies significantly from device to device, nor any experience that takes more than 3 clicks if you want it to drive mass adoption. So this is what Virtuser has done with the OTA APN settings, and created the most advanced APN data settings available.
The same client user experience on Virtuser; the real cost is only found in the end result!
Its simple, keep it simple, but most off all keep the experience as uniform as possible across devices, as a) people change handsets or have multiple handsets on different OS and b) they usually ask someone for help, who may well have a different OS.
The results of good user Experience, uniform service, and bespoke settings for thousands of handset/OS combinations built on the fly (the most advanced OTA APN platform) is significantly increased data revenues and an affordable cost to serve.
If you serve dynamic settings, in an automated but controlled fashon, with a uniform and well thought out manner then the benefits are huge and data traffic is presently in the 100s of Mb per user per month in MVNOs across the developed world, so what are you waiting for???

We have been a trusted advisor and service provider of the most successful MVNOs, MVNEs, MVNAs and MNOs for over 13 years, and stepped in to do this presentation at the last moment when the planned speaker let Ramy and MVNO dynamics down at the last moment. Obviously Ramy knew who to call; if you want the best data settings, are thinking of becoming an MVNO or just want the presentation in full (I have cut our some operational slides) then you can see more on the Virtuser OTA APN Settings page or contact me to discuss either via this page (middle right of this page) or via the Virtuser Mobile OTA APN website.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

MVNO 2013 Rome Conference

The MVNO 2013 Rome

The MVNO conference is moving to Rome from Barcelona!

MVNO Awards

There is an exciting new MVNO Awards to recognise innovation in MVNO, I will be on the judging panel and really looking forward to this exiting new development


There will be some interesting discussions on LTE in the MVNO MVNE space during a breakfast briefing and a panel, etc I will be chairing, so look forward to that as well! 

Meet MVNO Blog

I shall be there for the whole event, use the MVNO contactify link top right or one of the social network links to get in touch...

...and much more, see below:

MVNOs World Congress 2013
Date: 22-24 April 2013

Event description: The event is in its twelfth year and is the flagship event in the seven-event global #MVNOIS series.  Moving to new venue city Rome in 2013, the event will focus on the global opportunity for MVNOs with dedicated streams on CEM, M2M, LTE, WiFi, Quadplay, Retail, Brands and Roaming.

Event Highlights:
·         NEW! MVNO Start-up Summit – introducing the CEO’s of the newest MVNOs to the stage to answer audience questions on wholesale SLA’s funding, marketing, launch and gaining those vital subscribers!
·         NEW! MVNO Awards - celebrating the latest innovations and success in the MVNO industry
·         Dedicated Focus Day on Brand, Retail and Roaming – featuring Poste Mobile Italy, The Post Office UK, Tchibo, Trace and Virgin Mobile, Dobrytel and Roam Mobile.
·         Dedicated Stream on CEM and Partnerships – featuring Solavei, *bliep and Ting
·         NEW! Breakfast Briefing: 4G Wholesale by Alex Besen - In-Depth Look at 4G LTE Wholesale Business Models & Partnerships
·         NEW! The Congress moves to Italy this year.  Make the most of your opportunity to network and socialise in the beautiful city of Rome.
·         Global Focus – Global MVNO update covers Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe for the most comprehensive insight into international MVNO activity
·         NEW! Focus on Central and Eastern Europe – reviewing and analysing the latest MVNO launches in CEE
·         Extended Exhibition, on-site demos and networking opportunities. See the latest innovations and meet leading MVNEs, MVNAs and technology specialists.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

LTE data MVNO and wholesale LTE


I get asked a lot about LTE and the MVNO, and well be speaking about it and chairing a panel on it at the 2013 MVNO conference. Imust get asked about LTE and MVNO as much as I get asked about LTE and mobile apps if not more, and given that apps is a much, much bigger industry, well then it must be a big question!

Like many "MNO things" in MVNO, if you apply them without any thought, i.e. in what we will call a legacy manner, again, it will be your quickest route to MVNO failure, as you will just be selling what a bigger version of you is selling and spending more on marketing on and has bigger margins on so can squeeze you. However, I also get bored silly at conferences and meetings on LTE and the MVNO and how LTE will impact the market in general, and the main reason is that a lot of people are applying the same old principles as they did last time and the fundamental mistake:

Technology does not solve problems; it presents opportunities that can solve problems, but then this solution comes with its own set of problems, like everything in life...

The Fundamental mistake in terms of an MVNO is the fact that most MVNOs are still not leveraging 3G or even 2G data, how is evolution going to make a difference: the answer is manifold and varies depending on where we are talking about and the market there:

  • In general: in general the only difference could be that hopefully LTE will make the MNOs a little more open to discuss data propositions for the MVNO. At present, MNOs, even the good ones, tend to have a mental seizure with data, as they expect the MVNO to assume the risk of arbitrage. MVNOs in turn, then have a similar level of mental breakdown when they insist they need bundles... when in fact they can get on selling at least 30% to 50% of the data they can sell by simply selling data to the 50% of the market that use under 100mb of data per month as I mentioned in a recent post and not worry their MNO with potential capacity strains that cause their MNO mental seizure in the first place. The reality here is that the MNOs should stop flat rating data that causes this issues in the first place, however they will not for fear of churn, or if they all do it price collusion, so LTE may well be the catalyst that spurs proper MNO data pricing that does not let 5% of the data leeching users ruin the experience and business models of the rest of the world!
  • US market. Here LTE will be different, in that the CDMA players will finally have a play in the multimedia IMS space and a much more equal pegging that the two tier wholesale market at present, where the CDMA wholesale rate reflects the lower desirability of end users and business over GSM based solutions. We can expect the LTE players to be able to launch more, and more exciting MVNOs with LTE
  • Data SIM usage. I have been saying for a long time (5-10) years that there will be a rise of SIM usage and that the MNO will not want to, let alone be able to fulfil all of these opportunities themselves. Indeed, if they do not, many of them will find less appealing alternatives that cut out the MNO all together. An example is GPS, at present people either tether to their phone when they can be bothered for probably 5% of journeys, or download off-line or even use a dongle: in essence, the MNO is making nothing here as this data will inevitably be an unseen blimp on a flat rate data tariff, or an extra 2mb twice a year on a standard tariff, or at worse be by-passed altogether (download via ISP). if they do a deal with an MVNO that manages these SIMs (maybe 1,000,000 SIMs to an HLR and low QoS, latency, etc that these devices will work fine with, vs. high availability, fully loaded generic SIMs or even MNO M2M SIMs which are still engineered towards an average scenario and over engineered quality that IBM requires, not what Joe Blogs wants for his 10 different devices....) the user will happily pay Tom Tom or Garmin £5 per month for the SIM and some other services they bundle, like auto updates, being able to track where you have been on a website, and even pay another £5 per month for the data; for every journey. This could be £2-5 per month incremental revenue for every TomTom or Garmin in car navigation device sold. As, I believe KPN coined the phrase; "wholesale is better than no sale". at present 95% of PAID mobile data solutions go unfulfilled... (I have run some numbers for this based on business models that have not made it, vs. the whole of business models I have put to market, and the lack of extra data sold on those that did go to market - its shocking!)
  • M2M, as above, M2M has been engineered to the early adopter solutions that were defined by consultancies and technologists to cater for the first proposals, like tracking shipping containers around the world. Without going into details, the MNO is geared presently around small amounts of data over long periods of time and usually extended or wide spread distances. There are many other niche opportunities that have been aching to get to market, but have not been on thee in-house radar. All LTE will add, I hope, here is the ability for a two tier model of large local bandwidth and widespread lower bandwidth, which is not catered for at the moment without using wi-fi for the high bandwidth. While this may seem like a solution, if you think getting mobile coverage in your home, office and other locations is hard, try covering whole company locations and warehouses with wi-fi and integrating it with thee mobile network: there are many who will say its easy, and they are either lying or have never had to project manage the mess they designed! an all-mobile solution for this will be a game changer, assuming it changes the mind-set
The worst part? that the first and the second two could be done now, just that LTE will change the way a) people perceive data at the wholesale level, and b) will drive MNOs to drive usage and so we will see the business plans that were possible technically 5-10 years ago, finally be enabled, not by a technology, but by the circumstances that the arrival of a new technology has created.

If you like this article, please like us on facebook/mvnos or follow us / +1 on Google+ and of course follow us on twitter @MVNO_ 

If you want to discuss how you can enable data revenues for your MVNO or MNO wholesale department then use the contactify link at the top right of this page and get in touch

Monday, 21 May 2012

VAS, Facebook and the MVNO continued...


As many of you will know, I feel quite passionately about VAS and the MVNO. This is not just an obsession, its just a realisation that any good business needs a tie-in, a value-add, a "something" that means it does not sell on price alone, and so when a newer, shinier competitor comes along, in order of preference the customer goes:
  1. ah, but, does shiny new things do, this? no, thought not - high value - major competitive advantage
  2. I would have to change the way I do all my...(insert VAS here) to work with the new service, medium value - useful advantage
  3. I would have to update all my details, low value - would just be a pain to move, like moving bank account or electricity provider
The problem is, most MVNOs, and even some MNOs are not even on point 3 level of VAS.

So why not? well there is a list of reasons why from a legacy perspective this was the case, however things are changing

The usual ways to leverage data was content, content, content. were an expensive portal, streaming video, etc, etc. These days are gone, and the proof is the above. Indeed the days were never there, the amount of conferences I have chaired, attended and spoken at where "content" was the supposed issue, and all I could say was, customers have content: its emails (blackberry proved this to be the case!) and the web in general, but on the mobile. 

Facebook is driving MVNO

The proof is hand is this article: showing that facebook access from mobile has now surpassed computer access. I am honestly not surprised. In fact, in app development focus groups even 3 years back, we saw that a good mobile app, like only apple had at the time (an app that did not look like a mobile web browser, allowed upload of images and push notifications, chat) managed to completely shift usage of Facebook from computer to mobile, while more basic ones and now the very good mobile web experience manage to take a good deal of it.

The reasons for this are multiple, 
  • many people do not have access to unrestricted internet access or facebook at work
  • most of those who do would rather not be seen using facebook at work
  • using Facebook on a PC raises probably more privacy issues as computers tend to be shared more and have more browsing history that people may not want plundering so facebook can make more advertising revenue
  • the key one however is convenience, Facebook, and indeed our digital lives, are now round the clock, constant streams of info, updates, feeds, chats and more: mobile just suits this better, whether its from a web browser or an app

VAS is driving MVNO data

In fact, everything that is driving MNO data, is driving MVNO data, unless as an MVNO you make data difficult, like by not having the world's most advanced OTA data APN settings :).

The key is, with it being so simple to get this working, why are so many MVNOs still rendering themselves as a low value, sim-swapping bitpipe when all they need to do is get APN settings set-up, and some simple data tariffs. As we have seen, most users are using less than 100mb per month anyway as per my previous article on this blog, and as per my blog on Apps and App stores showing that even the most basic MVNO type handsets that many MVNOs perceive their user base is using, which means MVNOs can still be very competitive with the average data prices I am seeing while negotiating MVNO agreements (at least the prices I have seen in the last 3-5 years) and/or ones that could be easily and quickly agreed with an MVNO if approached with a plan around social networking, rather than the usual "I need cheaper prices" routine :)

If you like this article, please like us on facebook/mvnos or follow us / +1 on Google+ and of course follow us on twitter @MVNO_ 

If you want to discuss how you can enable data revenues for your MVNO or MNO wholesale department then use the contactify link at the top right of this page and get in touch