Predictions of continued growth in MVNO subscriber numbers is attracting new brands to the industry. However, these new players' desire to offer the same next-generation services as their host networks poses challenges in terms of policy control.
The benefits of mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) are well established, but the business model is becoming more challenging as new brands seek to offer next-generation services, billing specialist Redknee warns.
Mobile services including data and video mean host networks must review their billing and analytics systems to accommodate modern MVNOs, says Namit Garg, director of MVNO/E Solutions at the firm. The challenge, he notes, is in monetizing the usage of the network by sub-brands, which requires a new approach to the host operator’s management of network policy, wholesale and retail revenue models and partner billing services.
Host networks realistically have two main options to meet the challenge. Update legacy billing systems, or deploy a second billing and customer care stack specifically to meet the dynamic needs of new partners
Avoiding the big bang
While Garg says cleaning up the problem from the root is a reasonable option in theory, in practice “those transformations can take years.” The changes take time because large tier-1 carriers in the US and Western Europe with wholesale divisions hit a roadblock when it comes to updating legacy retail billing stacks, in order to extend their wholesale offer to next-generation sub-brands and MVNO partners.
As a result of the legacy systems’ inflexibility, complexity and slow time-to-market, many operators are choosing to deploy a second stack for partner brands, Garg explains. Such systems allow operators to “launch new innovative services in days rather than months” and acquire net new subscribers via the partner brand.