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

Friday, 22 April 2016

MVNO World Congress 2015 Pre Conference Workshop Part 2 - MVNO Data


Following up on the post 2016 MVNO World Congress  on the 2015 pre conference workshop, we have part 2, following Part 1 Mobile Marketing
Data is hard for MVNOs to sell effectively, as there are many hurdles, but good loyalty and revenue rewards those that do.
The biggest hurdle for any new MVNO is overcoming the same issue of the previous section on marketing: its the schizophrenic frankenstein approach. 
Your data package will vary if you are pre-pay, postpay or with an MVNO on MNO
The reality is that data bundles vary substantially if you are with an MNO, MVNO, prepaid or postpaid, and as such an MVNO data should vary. In reality, most pre-pay and MVNO customer s I have access to data for, use a lot less data than their postpaid counterparts, and there is a reason for this: if you are being charged for more data than you use, you will tend to learn to "abuse" data, whereas is you pay for what you use you tend to be more frugal.
Don't do it!

The is also a strange dichotomy whereby while mobile data requirements are going up on the one hand, wifi offload, wifi coverage, wifi speed and availability is also going up and giving way to "snacking" whereby frugal, light and moderate use of pay for what you use data at a premium price, can still be cheaper than "supersize" bundles that are throttled at some point anyway.

The second big issue for MVNOs is data configuration. We have been doing OTA APN data configuration specifically for MVNOs longer than anybody at Virtuser and know the pitfalls, especially when i comes to user experience, as we started out enabling apps for Nokia with their PR and Marketing agencies in 2006, and it was critical that the user experience was right.
Get the user experience for data for MVNOs wrong and it will be a disaster no matter what the bundle, package or need!
You need to get data working in as few clicks possible, and with a uniform as possible experience across all devices to a) keep customers, and b) minimise failures, but most of all c) minimise customer support; which is both a cost and a terrible customer experience in one.
Too many steps to configure data means too many points for failure, terrible customer experience and an unhappy customer
Above is the experience of the same ex MVNO with one service, and below with another... guess which one is ours and which is more effective :)
Simple data configuration is key to an MVNO
Apart from a bit of a plug of a service we spent 5 years developing to get right, the key is to remember than MNOs have this done automatically and so you, and an MVNO, are already starting with a disadvantage in terms of pain of adoption: keep it simple and get it right...

On top of this I would add the element of looking at wifi to complement your business, as the MNOs have done as well. In the long run it will keep your MNO happy, as:
  1.  you do not want to have the discussion with your MNO at the monthly operational meeting where X% of the MNO's network data hoggers are on your MVNO: just trust me on this one!
  2. keep the network, service and price for people prepared to pay for what they use and you are able to allow them to get what they pay for, which keeps the pressure on cost down.
  3. nothing is more "cannibalising" to an MNO than points 1. and 2. above!
  4. data can have the highest utilisation of any bundles if you get the product / price / positioning wrong
I have not covered all the points of the workshop, but a quick resume of other points are
  1. Have an app for data usage, as well as other usage, which shows actual usage and value and gains trust
  2. Never, ever, offer a throttled service: if you need an asterisk and footnotes, don't sell it
  3. Make the rest of the customer experience easy. An MNO has unlimited bundles that need limiting. There are however a lot of customers out there that are happy to pay for the data they use, as long as it is not throttled, and MVNOs can often end up with some very lucrative high end users.
A final addition is the one of eSIMs, which was presented in the 2016 MVNO World Conference the day I chaired this year. eSIMs are in many devices now, such as iPads and soon rumoured iPhones, and a host of devices coming out soon. You will also need to be able to SIM OTA, which you can do with advanced MVNEs such as the one I built  but not many do; which means yet another service to integrate, pay for, another relationship to managed, etc. etc.

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.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Mobile Roaming Regulation 2014 Customer Experience

When speaking to the organisers I thought it would be a good idea to present at the Mobile Roaming Conference 2013 on the impact of the EC Roaming regulations 2014 from, you know, the customers' perspective. It was a good idea and the presentation was received very well... however writing it was a lot more painful than the usual presentation!

It was only right to add the cover after I had made it look so nice...
So the premise of the presentation was to look at the user experience (UX) of customers while roaming in the European Union and how this may change with the wider EC roaming regulations of 2014, which will of course affect MVNOs. Virtuser is pretty well placed to speak about this, as we were there for the first round of regulations, requiring last minute WAP pages and SMS gateway solutions, and we have helped numerous MVNOs comply with regulation with advice of charge, etc.
Apple was not the first App Store, by far, nor the first to do apps, but the won with great UX
So what is the customer experience at present of not just the roaming regulations, but also just roaming... well its not a good one and its very, how shall we say, pre-iPhone, in fact pre WAP: when did you ever have a great text based customer experience?
The present Roaming Regulation experience is pretty dire and text only mostly
Most roaming experiences start with an overly edited text message, with no number to call customer service for free as we are supposed (come on, we know standard customer care calls abroad are not free, right?), the SMS service is most likely completely disconnected from any core systems or customer care tool and is the main reason why there are so many dormant roamers: when did a text based UX last convince you to buy something?
The roaming experience gets worse, what happens when you go over your limit? 
Then what happens when you go over the €50 limit? the €5 per day all inclusive plans are brilliant, but after 10 days what do I do... well you opt out and one operator was good to their word (above) another shall remain nameless and rubbed their hands together and delivered me a huge dose of bill shock. So I had 10 days of roaming regulation induced sanity, the rest of the time I was back in the dark ages.
And the prize for the best Roaming Regulations advice of charge message is.... 
Vodafone UK has, as far as I am concerned, the best roaming track record post the roaming regulations, however what went on in the office the day they decided this message was the way forward? and this is the reduced version as I culd only fit four screenshots in...
Its not just the regulated messages that are a poor customer experience
After upgrading my iPhone on Vodafone 3 or 4 times, once it decided I needed to change my romaining plan of the last 4 or 5 years... you know, just to shake things up a little: So I arrive and get a message saying I will be charged about 120 times my usual national rate for data as I was no longer using its roaming tariff - great, I am in a taxi, trying not to be taken the scenic route and make a meeting and I have to spend 30 minutes on the phone to my Operator (10 of which were on hold). I finally get it sorted and two hours later get a message, but when did the new tariff set in? was my call that I made a note to check on my bill that was free really free (I never got round to it, but suspect I know the answer).

Then there is the wonderful experience, particular to Voda UK, where on an iPhone, a person in your contacts list calls you and their number appears, you have them saved in your phone, as you do with all your numbers, with the +44 international code... yet you go to call them back, and because voda has delivered the call without the international code you get an error code and a text saying you need to put "00" in front of the number... worse is, I have spoken to a few people in Voda about this and they all go "oh, yes, that..." with a look of "who is going to take the next year of their life to fix that and probably not succeed or be thanked for it anyway" ...and I pay a premium for this type of service?
post 2014 will be different as it will introduce competition and "it will do" will no longer be good enough
So why will 2014 be any different when the second wave of EC roaming Legislation comes in? well, for a start, it will introduce competition. Operators do not typically like this, nobody in business really does, but we accept it as we know it is what get's you out of bed in the morning to drive progress. This progress is also important, as it will mean an app driven, internet based experience with all that that brings: real time knowledge, social interaction and real time reviews and ratings: it will be as close to a proper experience as we can get.and will bring roaming from pre app store to smartphone experience in one swoop... finally!
post 2014 with bring a) competition, but moreover b) an smartfone, interactive web and app based CX
It is this competition, as counterintuitive as it may seem, that will drive the 70% of dormant users to adopt roaming. Just as with national data and widespread mobile usage of all services (voice text and data) it was not just lower rates that drove wide spread adoption: it was competition: people did not message universally until whatsapp and imessage. Yes the operators lost a base a small % of their base who were uber texters, but they gained a complete base of data users who needed text as a fall back and the total volume of texts increased. The same with data, many people needed the comfort of their home wifi and hotspots to make the jump to a data tariff.
So who will win? the counterintuitive answer is everybody, as this will drive out the 70% dormant roamers
TBH many roamers will stay with the even lower price drop of their native operator, but if they go over their €50 limit, or their boss/client suddenly decided they need to rewrite a presentation with videos in it (been there) they have mobile options that do not mean finding a cafe with internet.
But there is still a lot to think about, like data configs when you break out and when you go back, fortunately Virtuser has a Mobile Roaming regulation OTA Data setting solution for this
I spoke to a lot of people about this, in my own mini focus group and took some great phrases you see in the word cloud from industry insiders, regulators and users: like:

  • It will take a while for people to gain faith in roaming regulations, like a whole yearly cycle of travelling. 
  • Value is important. you do not want to pay €5 or even €2 every day, but you will happily pay €10 just for data the day your boss needed that presentation yesterday
  • legacy billing is no longer an excuse, in fact its the excuse we all got bored of and drove this regulation in the first place!
  • Technology challenges need to be overcome, like even UX, how do you go from one app (your native host operator) to the LBO app and configs and back again. It's bound to break at first! 
  • Competition is key, its no longer enough to ignore this, or your revenues will reflect this
  • Roaming is still a huge revenue by EBITDA % but will need a small investment in UX to grow
But these can be overcome, and whether you an an MNO or MVNO I have helped both through this before... so get in touch if you want to discuss apps and OTA settings and SMS gateways!
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Thursday, 10 May 2012

Data and MVNOs - what are they waiting for?

An interesting piece of research has confirmed something I have suspected and seen from wroking with MNOs and MVNOs over the years: a lot of smartphones don't actually use that much data, in fact 49% of smartphones in the UK use less than 100mb... This is roughly in line with operators' claims that 5% of users are hogging around 80-90% of the data usage, the rest (the difference between the 49% and the 5%) will be closer to the 100mb than the 1gb cap, in general. Over the last 5 years, from Nokia N95 to androids to iphones, I have averaged 176mb per month of mobile network data. The amount offloaded over wi-fi obviously higher, and there are occasional spats, moving house, etc where I have gone over that significantly.

So what does this mean for MVNOs and MNOs? Well, for a starts, MVNOs should stop whining about wholesale data prices and get on with selling data. even at 10p per mb, 49% of UK mobile phone users would be no better or no worse off paying GBP 0.10p per megabyte than the typical £10 per month "unlimited" data bundles they are using nowhere near the Fair usage policy. 

Does this mean everybody should move to an MVNO? No, most people, including myself, are quite happy paying £10 per month for unlimited data, knowing that I will pay the same if I use 85mb because I worked at home most of the month or 500mb because I was on a client site most of the month with no wi-fi to offload to... There were even more frustrating occasions when moving home once and my ISP messed up the installation of cable internet at the new property, I had gone past my 1bg fair use and as such my available bandwidth had been throttled back to a snails pace, however I could not pay my mobile operator another £10 in that same month for another gb of data at the usual high speed - this is nuts!

What does it mean to MNOs? Well, data has been documented by many as 80% of network costs, but its not 80% of network revenues, in fact its not even close, and that is no doubt before factoring in a handset subsidy of a brand new and reliably expensive smartphone. Most of these costs arise from the increased cost of backhaul and the ability of data hoggers to render this expensive backhaul useless, combined with an overwhelming need to satisfy various parties that the investment was necessary and that they have all the data users replacing the decline in voice and SMS revenues, even though the latter is still clearly the bulk of revenues... all very complicated, and unlikely that anybody within the MNOs will break this status quo. 

But my example of 85mb vs 500mb shows that its not just the data hoggers that are the problem, how do you plan to provision data for 10 to 20 million customers whose demand varies so much without huge data network running costs? Well the answer is to a model that matches usage with payment a bit closer. If I wanted to, I could offload most of that 500mb data from a month in an office with "no wifi" onto my laptop or actually define that "no wifi" meant there was wifi in that office, however it may involve me accepting a landing page every so often, or signing into a hotspot a few times per day: I would do that if my tariff matched my usage a bit more closely. As it is it is easier to switch off wifi in that office and let the MNO take that strain... 

When we finally match data a bit more closely to usage, MNOs can plan their network more effectively, they will cost significantly less than 80% of costs, revenues will go up and customers will stop complaining that data does not work, as the data hoggers will be weaned off and people will be using mobile data when they need it. More importantly, MNOs will finally be able to discuss MNO data requirements in earnest.

What we do know, is that the yield on mobile data in MNOs at the moment is much much lower than 10p per mb, at least in the UK and other territories where there is a data "land grab", and this data yield involves a marketing cost, often a very expensive (and complex and fickle one) of subsidising a smartphone, whereas the MVNO can sell a lot off this data at between 5p to 10p per mb very easily, whilst bearing the marketing and other customer costs and most of the general admin costs, while still yielding higher data revenue... And at the same time start breaking the "flat tariff" status quo madness and move to a pricing model that let's MNOs raise their own data yields and plan their network more effectively.

What does the customer gets? mobile data that works when you need it to, no matter what you pay...

And finally, to wrap up, I would advise any MVNO to get out there and sell data, by the mb, not by the bundle, people want data however you have to help them: 
  • you need to have at least the basics of getting them to mobile friendly versions of the data they want to access
  • you may want to let customers know when they have used  a given amount of data
We have done this by enabling data successfully for many MVNOs and once you have done this then you have the knowledge of your user base to be able to plan data marketing over the next few months and have a sensible conversation with the MNO about data pricing and bundles... its not rocket science, its what MVNOs have managed to do with voice (charge per min in a bundle environment) and SMS (charge per SMS in bundle environment) because there is a significant part of the population out there who want to budget their usage across data as well as voice and SMS and already have a shiny smartphone thank you very much...

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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, 16 April 2012

Ad funded mvno business model and the MVNO industry summit

Ad funded MVNO 

As the MVNO summit is just around the corner; a question that is often asked and/or a comment often made in MVNO conferences is:
  • will MVNO business model X work in Y country/market, or
  • X MVNO business failed so that MVNO model does not work... 

Is the ad-funded MVNO model still viable?

The ad -funded model is one of them, and as such has been part of my new blogs and old legacy MVNO blog for a while and can be found here: MVNO business models. You then of course have the other end of the scale, usually those who argues against MVNOs from the beginning and have now had to swallow their words as MVNOs make bigger and bigger percentages of MNO bottom lines: people who say that MVNOs as a whole  don't work when one happens to fail! Back on the more moderate heckler  let's deal with One of the most frequent is that, if Blyk failed then the ad funded model does not work... This is just plain wrong on a few levels:
  1. 50% of all new businesses fail. In this respect, MVNOs are probably one of the best businesses you can invest in, as the failure rate is actually in single % figures in most countries over time. It has been higher, for example in France at first, when the regulator forced MVNOs, the result was that the network operator agreements were so restrictive that they strangled the first MVNOs... however they were all absorbed by the host MNO, so you could argue it was intentional: if they were proper failures the MNO would have set them out to dry rather than absorbing them. Blyk was also absorbed by its MNO - an MNO has full visibility of an MVNOs activities and potential, and they do not flog a dead horse!
  2. The "ad" is very generic. If you look at the add business over the last few years you will see most of the traditional spend has all but disappeared and been replaced with display ads, Blyk started with a model based on ads that suddenly went into decline.
  3. Mobile advertising is still in its infancy, it has been for 5 years, however this is now changing

Will the Brand MVNO, supermarket MVNO model, etc work in my country? 

In short, what does this mean? well it means that there has never been a better time to launch an ad funded business, as long as you are choosing the right type of ads, when to send them and, like any business, are careful how you spend and manage cash flow.

So, with the biggest MVNO summit to date, now extended to three days, let's make the MVNO Summit about where and how we are moving models like the ad funded model; add funded voice, data and SMS/MMS, to market in new countries, and maybe even take part in the MVNO challenge...

I will be adding to this list over the coming months, feel free to comment, like the  MVNO Facebook page, MVNO Google+ page or follow @MVNO_ on Twitter if you want to be notified of these updates

Tuesday, 7 February 2012


VAS or Value Added Services were once the darling of planet MNO mobile operator, to some extend they still are, only now we seem to have forgotten all the original VAS and just focus on thenew ones like app stores. Then along came the MVNO, the new darling of Mobile, then it went from retail to wholesale and in the fracas we seem to have lost Value Added Services in the MVNO space.

There are a few reasons for this:

Click here to read on