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MVNOs Series

Opinion piece: Scott Allan on the state of the MVNO market in North America

Scott Allan, former general manager - Ting, Independent Consultant, shares his views on the state of the MVNO market in North America, how technologies such as IoT, eSIM, and 5G are affecting the market, and what is interesting and distinguishes the region from all the other regions.

The North American MVNO market continues to be one of the most interesting and innovative in the world.

In the United States the retail market remains very competitive. We have seen a couple of MVNOs fail or fail to launch under the pressure. Established and savvy MVNOs have found ways to thrive in a challenging environment though. While pricing may get a little more competitive still, there is a lot of opportunity for capable and innovative operators.

We are also seeing more competitive wholesale pricing, especially on data, as traditionally ambivalent Network Operators look to MVNOs for growth.

Consumers are clearly becoming more and more comfortable trusting MVNOs to provide their wireless services. Several MVNOs have been rated very highly by Consumer Reports, which has helped establish credibility. Device portability has continued to generally improve, enabling choice for consumers and opportunities for MVNOs.

Data usage continues to be a major engine for growth as more and more users embrace digital lifestyles.

IOT is another interesting area to be sure. Not only are there significant growth opportunities, but Network Operators are very willing to work with third parties who can deliver qualified opportunities and add value in the process. While often low in ARPU, sheer volume and low churn make this segment attractive.

The elephant in the room is Masayoshi Son. I am optimistic that he is going to effect positive change in the industry, but this remains to be seen. He plays a long game, and he does not like to lose. Anything he does will not affect MVNOs for two to three years.

In Mexico, the ongoing government efforts to open that market persist. There will be real opportunities there, but it's anyone's guess as to when they come to fruition.

Canada sadly remains a barren wasteland of uncompetitive incumbents providing mediocre service at some of the highest retail rates in the developed world. As a Canadian, I am embarrassed by this.

I am looking forward to being in Chicago as opposed to Dallas, catching up with all the key people in the industry, and hopefully having dinner with Whitey Bluestein.

MVNOs North America

Join Scott Allan, Whitey Bluestein and many other decision-makers at the MVNOs North America, 16-17 October, for the live discussion and more insights. Book your place now