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

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

MVNO in a box and cloud MVNO / MVNE - What do they mean

Cloud means many things to many people

Cloud means many things to many people, but as far as virtual mobile is concerned, it really means virtualisation, stuff that was designed to be on multiple machines, put in a single environment for operational and service effectiveness. The reason or a single virtual environment. The reason for this is that you cannot put all of the elements needed for a full MVNE in the cloud yet (like install it on AWS) so you have to create your own, which is not as easy as it sounds: many people just do not have the license or rights to sell on a complete system to a 3rd party. In short, most MVNEs are like an internet cafe, with, hopefully, licences to let their customer use computers with the software they bought on the, but they do not have a right to resell all of that software for a separate resale or resale of a resale.
Cloud and in-a-box is only a real benefit if all services are integrated on a single Single Virtual Environment 

When is cloud really a benefit as opposed to just marketing gumpf?

Just like before setting up Conecto, I worked on one of the biggest companies and best know brands in the world global MVNE strategy, not only did we have this issue, but furthermore; Not one MVNE passed our operational or financial due diligence, so we had to go with suppliers who let us deploy as we wished and build our own. My previous client, before Conecto was built, had to go with the least bad MVNE at the time, which was far from ideal.
So now we have the Cloud issue dealt with, lets get to what “in a box” means!
That means everything on a single virtual environment, not just OSS, BSS; reporting, OTA... the lot!

What does in-a-box really mean?

Conecto has spent 3 years, taking so called off the shelf "in a box”, some of them already cloud or part cloud, services, making them fully cloud, NFV, SDN capable... however we found the world of MVNE is not so in a box and we needed to put more in the box than we bargained for... like a whole new SBC, MSC, SMSC and GGSN, as well as other services like OTA needed completely re-integrating to make it work.

When is in-a-box really a benefit as opposed to marketing gumpf?

What most people mean when they say “in a box” is that they in fact have a collection of boxes prepackaged and selected for you in another box, all of which, again, cause huge operational and other issues.

In short, there is no point having a bunch of connected “clouds”, single virtual environments” or “boxes in a box”, as APIs, connectivity, and even security patching and regression, along with and other changes and even basic debugging mean that achieving over 99% uptime is impossible. 
In short, true cloud benefits are achieved by taking ALL the elements of a fully running, INTEGRATED service and putting them on one virtual machine and networking service. Only then can you:
  • Resource flexibility; instead of having to physically take a machine down, etc, you can allocate more resource remotely, 
  • Apply levels of security and operational processes above and beyond the donor services
  • Multiply connectivity for example to 8 or 16 SMSCs vs only 2
  • Assure that data stays within a single network environment when being reported, stored and processed.
  • Lastly but not least(ly); achieve 99.9xxx uptime when donors only promise 97% in some cases.

How far can the box stretch?

So next time someone tries to sell you “in a box” and / or a cloud MVNE, make sure you scratch below the surface and see what it really means, as in the last 4 years of RFPs and migrations of customers from pretty much every major MVNE player, we can only conclude that we are the only MVNE that has this, or at least has customers using and taking advantage of the operational flexibility and other benefits that true cloud and in a box offers.
There is no point having a selection of boxes in a box, as it does not give the operational efficiency to do all this!

Promotional Advert for our sponsor and only truly cloud in-a-box mvne I am aware of in the sense of offering true benefits to MVNOs and their customers as outlined above: true operational efficiency and flexibility.

Friday, 22 April 2016

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

2015 PRE CONFERENCE WORKSHOP - 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.



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.