Wireless data plans – Commodity or value solution, and how to differentiate?

Wireless data plans – Commodity or value solution

We hear customers all the time asking if we have any magic when it comes to wireless spend. And we 100% get it, wireless spend makes up a very large portion of our customer’s telecom spend these days and it only seems to be trending higher as we move into the 5G realm.

So is there any spoof or magic that wireless solution providers can offer? In my expert opinion; it’s a firm, possible, maybe. Seriously, it depends on the type of usage, IoT, M2M, mobile usage, etc. The industry is controlled by the three major wireless providers when it comes to data, AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile (who recently merged with Sprint Wireless). These providers are known as MNOs or major network operators. Then you have MVNAs (mobile virtual network aggregator), MVNEs (mobile virtual network enabler) and MVNOs (mobile virtual network operator). These are all the underlying sources and providers that aggregate carriers or offer single carriers and market under their own brand to both businesses and consumers.

So where do these wireless entities all have their place in the world for businesses?

Traditionally, businesses are using the MNOs as a commodity for data plans. The big distinction that needs to be made here is that wireless data for the most part is without a doubt a commodity. The rate plans are similar for the big two (AT&T & Verizon Wireless), and T-Mobile’s coverage is resigned to major markets for the most part, so it’s not really capable of providing a true nationwide solution for a mid-market company in my humble opinion, unless the stars align perfectly. If they do align, T-Mobile’s rate plans are much more aggressive as they are anywhere from 25-50% less when it comes to price plans, which is what makes them attractive in some cases.

Ok, now that we have covered the commodity, where’s the value?

MVNAs and MVNEs mostly do business with MVNOs so we will focus on the MVNOs who are also starting to pick up the pace in terms of plans and solutions for small, medium and even some enterprise businesses. Once again, for the most part, keeping in mind that data is a commodity, the MVNOs have had to develop solutions that simplify or improve the customer’s experience vs. using the carrier’s directly. Some of the ways they have done this include aggregating all the providers under a single data plan or creating a pooled plan across all the providers and billing them on a single invoice. For those larger organizations with hundreds or even thousands of SIMs this simplifies the people side of the equation because you now have one entity to contact, which offers a single order, single bill and single point of contact vs. having two or three entities and all the complexity that comes with managing them all. This is a big part of why Wireless Telecom Expense Management has spread like wildfire.

MVNOs are the value-added provider to customers and are much more creative and collaborative than their carrier counterparts. Another example of this is having an MVNO, like EnableIP, who is using SmartSIM capabilities. What’s a SmartSim you ask? SmartSIM is a technology that allows a device to be registered with all major network providers, and with one SingleSIM, called a SmartSIM. It works by determining the best signal based on the location of the device. If the device were to lose coverage with a carrier, it will then scan for the next available option and connect to that appropriate network. As you can imagine this technology can be a game-changer for entities that have mobile workforces or fleets because it allows for a dynamic allocation of the SIM to the appropriate carrier at any given time. It provides for as close as possible to an always connected user experience.

Another MVNO advancement is having the ability to limit usage based on the type of application that you want the device connected. This all happens at the network level, since the MVNO is carrying the traffic on their network for the majority of the transmission they can provide these types of value-added services. Effectively, they are using the MNO or major carriers as a last mile and then carrying the data traffic to its end destination.

MVNOs also protect the traffic using both secure networks with packet encapsulation as well as having the ability to privatize the data by using a private APN.

As you can see, the MVNO space has made rapid advancements when it comes to providing customers with solutions that their carrier counterparts really can’t and don’t without them.

This wasn’t meant to be a MVNO touted dialogue, but just like the major wireline providers, the enterprise space is where the majority of the MNOs time is being spent. Where the MNOs fall short is being able to provide value-added services, such as aggregated carrier solutions on a single SIM. This simply isn’t possible for them. Don’t worry too much about the MNOs because they are still getting all the data traffic from the MVNOs, with just a slight reduction in revenue, but arguably more volume due to the services and solutions the MVNO is now providing.

So the next time you are investigating where value can be provided by the carrier (MNO), we would challenge you to think about the MVNOs, like EnableIP, that can offer you valuable services that off-set the price by providing you with solutions to your mobility and wireless problems.

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