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Can I have a Piggyback? – Challenges for an MVNO

Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) have been popping up left, right and centre here in the UK over recent years; growing in both client base and also in complexity of offerings. We counted over 50 MVNOs currently in the UK marketplace at the time this article was written.

The MVNO subscriber base is growing due to the great tariffs offered to new customers and low maintenance costs due to not having to spend money on maintaining the network. The complexity of MVNO tariff offerings is also growing as more and more companies offer SIMs as part of a new full package e.g. broadband, TV, energy and utilities. This increase in competition is great news for the consumer as they see more value from lower prices being offered. Offers such as social media bundles, family data sharing bundles, multi-service bundles and other attractive new marketing ideas.

The arrangement of a virtual operator is to ‘piggyback’ so to speak off a Mobile Network Operator (MNO), sometimes referred to as the parent operator. The MVNO is usually at the mercy of the call detail records provided to them from the MNO. With the MVNO paying the MNO for the usage made by the MVNO’s subscribers.

We have recently been discussing revenue assurance using test call generators with MVNO’s of all shapes and sizes. There are a number of recurring themes that show where the challenges lie, depending on the size of the MVNO:

  • The ‘forming’ MVNO – all new customers, grappling with the complexities of telecoms such as billing systems, interconnect termination fees, roaming agreements, wholesale margins, perhaps lacking a clear risk framework.
  • The ‘storming’ MVNO – established in the marketplace, retaining old customers and still drawing in large volumes of new subscribers. Audit evidence becoming more and more critical, risk framework in place but perhaps only some of the necessary tools.
  • The ‘performing’ MVNO – a household brand, steady customer base, with cost and margins critical to business success. Compliant with regulations, a number of RAFM tools and suppliers in place.

In all of the above scenarios, test call generation and risk-based methodology has been proven time and again over the years to give a return on investment. These test results can be used as evidence in complying with the TMBS regulations or any other audit requirement.

One of the specific benefits offered by having an independent TCG is the added visibility it provides. This increased awareness becomes possible when comparing TCG data against the CDR content provided by the parent network. It is common for business rules to be applied by the MNO that the MVNO knows nothing about, for example; CDR filtering or aggregation, duration rounding, URL based charging, data retries etc. Yet the responsibility of informing customers of these business rules and ensuring they comply with regulations sits squarely with the MVNO at audit time.

If you need help with this or would just like to have a chat about how we could help you pass your regulatory audits then please get in touch. We have been BABT certified consecutively for over 10 years and have helped numerous operators in the UK, Europe and elsewhere succeed with regulatory audits. All our test call generator solutions are scalable, so even if you only have a handful of tariffs or products to test, we have a service that can suit you. Click here to see our pricing and service offerings.