Wednesday, September 26, 2012

MVNO Right Now

Ting is owned by webhosting company Tucows. Forbes has an article about how Ting is re-thinking its approach to business cell phone service. It's about features as value adds.

Ting just added the Samsung Galaxy S3 phone to its line-up. Sprint MVNO execs told FISPA in Atlanta that handset contracts - like the iPhone - have to be handled by the MVNO themselves. That is where a middle man like Telispire or Sherpa can come in to play.

The other 2 US MVNOs making waves are Republic Wireless by and FreedomPop by the founders of Skype.

FreedomPOP will be giving away 500MB of data from Sprint and Clearwire per month. The catch is that their service is just wi-fi for your iPod.

Republic's trick is to "offload voice, messaging and data to WiFi wherever it’s available to offer unlimited everything for $19/mo."

Notice that both tricks involve wi-fi networks and not the cell networks. That is to keep costs reasonable. In some ways, MVNO is the new UNE-P. In other ways, it is just a wholesale product for the cellcos - Sprint, Clearwire, ATT, VZW and T-Mobile. All offer MVNO plans. Some CLECs - like EarthLink, Cbeyond and TelePacific - have mobile offerings - that typically are limited and cost the CLEC real money.

"Telecom Service Bureau (TSB), a Florida-based MVNO, is on the hunt for resellers who want to act as carriers for their customers," wrote CP mag. "Telecom Service Bureau is a mobile virtual network aggregator (MVNA) with the ability to offer a full suite of turn-key, support solutions to wireless service providers, allowing them to become an MVNO in the shortest time period, at the lowest possible cost. We specialize in low-income market support; provide industry-leading pricing and profit models for wholesale minutes; OSS support; handset procurement; advertising and distribution. To lower your overall operational cost, we bundle your back office network components and quickly provide order-to-cash solutions."

That said Tracfone is probably the most successful MVNO in the US. Boost, Virgin Mobile are owned by Sprint to sell prepaid services on the under-utilized Sprint network. To emphasize a point: MVNO is NOT about PRICE because that plan requires scale that almost all MVNO's lack! It is about niche, segments, or a value-add to your current client base.

"Telispire provides private-labeled nationwide wireless resale solutions for independent ILEC, CLEC and electrical cooperatives. Telispire has leveraged the power and reach of the national wireless carriers, a state of the art back office system and industry-wide business relationships to develop the premier mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). Turn-key solutions, combined with a dedicated team of telecommunications professionals, enable you to offer a nationwide wireless product that will enhance revenues and profitability....In 2006, National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC) bought a majority stake in Telispire."

TelSpace is a billing provider for MVNOs. This might be an option for FISPA.

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