What Is Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO)?

Traditional Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are the large companies responsible for constructing and managing cell towers, forming the backbone of mobile communication networks. On the other hand, Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) are service providers that don't own the physical infrastructure but lease network access from MNOs. 

What Is MVNO?

So, what is MVNO? Unlike MNOs with their extensive physical infrastructure, MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) operate on a virtual model. They enter into wholesale agreements with MNOs, essentially "leasing" bulk network capacity. This leased access can encompass various network resources, including: 

  • Radio Access Network (RAN). This layer provides the physical connection between user devices and the core network through cell towers. 

  • Mobile Core Network (MCN). This layer handles core functionalities like call routing, subscriber management, and data transmission. 

  • The specific network components leased by an MVNO depend on the type of MVNO (discussed later). 

  • MVNO Operational Models. Degrees of Control and Infrastructure Involvement 

MVNOs come in various flavors, each offering a different level of control and infrastructure involvement: 

  • Full MVNO (Full MNO). These MVNOs possess the highest level of control, replicating many functionalities of a traditional MNO. They often have their own core network infrastructure (MCN) and handle operations like billing, customer service, SIM card distribution, and marketing independently. 

  • Light MVNO (Light MNO). These MVNOs have a lighter touch, relying more heavily on the host MNO for core network functions. They might manage elements like billing, customer service, and SIM card distribution, but depend on the MNO's RAN and core network infrastructure. 

  • Service Provider MVNO (SP MVNO). These MVNOs focus primarily on branding and customer service, relying almost entirely on the host MNO's infrastructure for both RAN and core network operations. They typically manage billing, customer care, and sales activities. 

  • Mobile Virtual Network Enabler (MVNE). These companies are a special type of MVNO that act as intermediaries. They provide technical expertise and infrastructure to other companies (typically SP MVNOs) who wish to become MVNOs without building their own infrastructure. 

The Technical Advantages of MVNOs for IoT Applications 

The virtual nature of MVNOs offers several technical advantages for IoT deployments: 

  • Cost-Effectiveness. By leasing network capacity instead of building their own infrastructure, MVNOs can offer lower prices to customers, making them ideal for cost-sensitive IoT applications. 

  • Scalability. MVNOs often provide flexible data plans that can be easily scaled up or down as the number of connected devices in an IoT deployment grows. 

  • Focus on Low-Bandwidth Data .Many MVNOs cater specifically to low-bandwidth data applications, a perfect fit for the minimal data transmissions required by most IoT devices. 

  • Network Diversity. Some MVNOs offer access to multiple MNO networks, providing redundancy and potentially broader coverage for geographically dispersed IoT devices. 

Technical Considerations When Choosing an MVNO for IoT 

Selecting the right MVNO for your IoT project requires careful consideration of several technical factors: 

  • Network Coverage. Ensure the MVNO utilizes an MNO's network that offers adequate coverage in the areas where your IoT devices will operate. 

  • Supported Network Technologies. Verify that the MVNO supports the desired network technologies for your IoT devices, such as 2G, 3G, 4G LTE, or emerging 5G networks. 

  • Data Plans. Evaluate data plans offered by the MVNO, focusing on data allowances, pricing, and potential overage charges. Look for plans that align with the expected data consumption of your IoT devices. 

  • Security Features. Investigate the MVNO's security protocols for data transmission, especially if your IoT devices handle sensitive information. 

  • API Integration. For complex IoT deployments, consider MVNOs that offer Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for seamless integration with your management platform. 

1NCE Shop

Buy the 1NCE IoT Lifetime Flat now

Visit the 1NCE Shop and start connecting your IoT devices easily. Simply order your SIM cards, choose the desired type of SIM card and fill out all required forms. After the payment has been approved you get your cards within five to seven business days.