Report: data-only MVNOs use mobile broadband to add value

Data-only MVNOs rely on mobile data services to up-sell and cross-sell core products (laptops, e-book readers) or services (telematics, ICT solutions) to add value to products or services that they already offer within their portfolio, according to a new study by InfoCom Research.

Data-only MVNOs rely on mobile data services to up-sell and cross-sell core products (laptops, e-book readers) or services (telematics, ICT solutions) to add value to products or services that they already offer within their portfolio, according to a new study by InfoCom Research.

Device-based MVNOs are mostly ICT retailers – such as Amazon or Best Buy- who leverage their distribution network to add mobility to their offer of laptops. The mobile broadband data service adds value to the product “as the mobile connectivity is already included without the customer to have to buy it extra,” said a senior analyst at InfoCom.

Such retailers take a full MVNO approach, handling most of the service infrastructure from billing, CRM, sales and distribution, says the report. And they adopt their own tariff, with own prepaid and postpaid plans, even customized according to different laptops brands.

“With this model, retailers increase the value proposition of a core product,” says an InfoCom analyst.

Accordingly, most M2M MVNOs are M2M providers that have added mobile data connectivity on top of their M2M applications or include mobile data services as part of their own M2M solutions, says InfoCom. The mobile data service bridges the connectivity requirement and enhances the value of the products. These companies partner often with other MVNOs and may also have wholesale agreements with other network operators locally and overseas to ensure a more extensive availability and reach of the service outside their local market.

CrossBridge Solutions (Lincolnshire, Ill., USA) for instance, who specializes in the provision of M2M applications across different verticals, has added US-wide mobile connectivity to its solutions through an agreement with AT&T (Dallas, Texas, USA) and Sprint (Overland Park, Kan., USA) as well as ORBCOMM (Fort Lee, N.J., USA). Other providers, such as Kore Telematics (Alpharetta, Ga., USA) really act like classical MVNO by providing airtime (SMS, data and voice) services, though tailored to support its own M2M applications. In both cases, the mobile data connectivity completes the offer – eliminating the need for clients to get a separate mobile data contract from different network operators, says InfoCom.

Adding mobile data services is also used as a tool to create or defend a competitive advantage over industry rivals. HP (Palo Alto, Calif., USA), for instance, launched its data-only MVNO service in 2009 to improve market share in Japan where it faced strong competition from local manufacturers. The same logic was followed by Amazon that bundled mobile data services to its Kindle to protect its market from Apple and other tablet manufacturers.

Some MVNOs bank on mobile data services to minimize churn on their core products and services. Providers of ICT solution to enterprises, for example, launched MVNO offers as part of bundling strategies to curb churn among enterprise customers, according to InfoCom.

Most of data-only MVNOs generally prefer a full MVNO business model, where they manage most of the service infrastructure from billing, CRM, sales and distribution but, on the other hand, they have more flexibility as regards providing the service and designing their own tariffs.