TG: The use of 3G and 4G in IoT and M2M is by far the most interesting technology. It can be used to deliver a seamless, superfast connectivity experience in almost any location. Other interesting technologies to keep an eye on are e-SIMs and multi IMSI solutions.
These technologies enable the credentials of a device, usually stored on a SIM card, to be remotely updated or changed to ensure that the device is always using the best mobile network for its technical and commercial needs.
TRP: What are the challenges that you face as an operator in terms of delivering wholesale partnerships?
TG: The market is filled with potential or existing MVNOs looking for a host MNO provider. The challenge is identifying the partners who are geared for long term success and aligned with your wholesale strategy in what is a competitive market.
To determine partnership potential, we like to understand the MVNO prospect's business plan, sustainable market differentiators, distribution approach, desired customer experience and ongoing strategy.
In terms of actual delivery, we have separated our delivery roadmap from Three's retail roadmap so the actual technical delivery of MVNOs is generally smooth.
TRP: What are the best practises for launching an MVNO?
TG: Find a partner with a capable network, an agile approach, a genuine interest in growth and the least chance of channel conflict.
TRP: What are the risks of launching an MVNO?
TG: The risk of launching an MVNO is usually after the initial launch excitement. The MVNO needs to be constantly assessing their performance trends, and have alternative plans ready to go - it's not a 'set and forget' market.
MVNOs can be very rewarding for all parties but making it a success needs long term commitment and investment. MVNOs need to be confident that their MNO partner will remain committed to the partnership, opening up services as technology evolves. A recent example of this is enabling 4G services to MVNOs.
TRP: What considerations must an operator make before making an agreement with an MVNO?
TG: What market is the MVNO targeting and how will they be successful in that market vs the established direct and in-direct competition? How will they distribute their service? What is their forecast? What technical enablers do they require from the MNO in order to deliver the end customer experience?
What other complementary services do they currently offer? Is their brand a good mobile fit? What is their mobile/MVNO experience? How are they funded? What is their long term plan post go live? How will the MVNO contribute to the MNO's goals? There's plenty to think of.
TRP: Is there a danger of the market becoming overcrowded by MVNOs?
TG: The UK market already has around 90 brands offering mobile services under the guise of an MVNO. There are some MVNO vertical markets which are over-crowded such as the low cost international calling market.
Markets such as business and mobile data are two markets that would benefit from new MVNOs who perhaps already have a presence in said market for another service. New innovation means new markets are always opening up – we are excited about partnering to tap into these new markets.
Like any other business you need a clear idea of who your customers are, what they need and the means by which you will reach them. If you have that the road is wide open.
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Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.