Revitalizing Legacy MVNOs

February 7, 2024
The world’s first MVNO, Virgin Mobile UK, launched in 1999. Over the following two decades the number of MVNOs exploded to nearly 2,000 by 2022. With the introduction of 5G networks, the explosion of AI and platforms that support machine learning and IoT integration, the sky’s the limit for the attractive tailored services that MVNOs can build on.

For legacy MVNOs however, this often means examining their operating model, market positioning, and backend technology, to uncover opportunities for a refresh… to stay competitive in today’s dynamic telecom industry and adopt to the changing customer demands.

Let’s look at some of the areas legacy MVNOs can update to improve competitiveness in today’s environment.

Embrace New Technology

Over the last decade IT billing and CRM systems have advanced significantly.  While it is easier than ever for new MVNOs to launch their offer fast and cost effectively thanks to Cloud-based BSS platforms, legacy MVNOs can utilise the same technologies to replace aged-out on-prem systems.

The digital transformation that includes artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and IoT technologies that incorporate sensors and video analysis, all have a place in the new MVNO world.

This can enable customer data to be used to guide plan enhancements, pricing models, and marketing decision-making.

Technology such as IoT and 5G is now driving advancements in the business telco market with 5G Private Networks, Private LTE, and advanced Wi-Fi.  While many of these private wireless network developers will leverage MNO network slicing to build their networks, MVNOs have an opportunity to get into this game as well since they can be nimble or bundle their service offering in a way to attract these business customers.

Focus on the Customer Experience

With eSIM and straightforward customer interfaces, MVNOs can improve the customer experience from activation and onboarding, to making plan adjustments quickly and easily, to developing a thriving customer community, and simplifying the purchasing process for products and services that their community demands. By doing this, the MVNO brand can be strengthened and reduce their level of churn.  

One still heavily underutilized benefit of eSIM is option to offer digital-first onboarding experience, fully shopless, efficient and fast, truly matching the modern lifestyle of new generation of communication services users.  By modernising their BSS and ensuring seamless eSIM integration, MVNOs can strengthen the relationship with their customers while lowering their costs.

Improve Market Positioning or Rebrand

Market positioning has always been a key factor in separating MVNOs from MNOs in the wireless phone market.  Typically, MVNOs delivered low-price plan options and pre-paid models that attracted the younger generations - students, environment and social issues, and entertainment-focused buyers (including gamers).

Over time, market positioning can become dated and connections with the customer community can be weakened.  Assuming the core market focus is still relevant, MVNOs can fine-tune their market direction to align better with today’s customers, what they care about, and the products and services they will buy.  This is where new partnerships and strategic alliances can be negotiated to provide what customers want, increase margins, and boost brand loyalty.

If an original market positioning is no longer profitable, other niche markets can be explored.  This includes demographics (students, seniors), entertainment (gaming, music, movies, events), travel (van life, location-independent lifestyles, ex-pat living), causes (environment, sustainability, green energy, social responsibility), or a change from consumer markets to business with IoT and 5G.  

Build Community and Increase Customer Engagement

When many MVNOs first launched, smartphones were in their infancy and social media was not nearly as integrated into society as it is today.  With today’s tools, communities can be fostered, real-time feedback is possible, and customer interactions and assessing the customer experience is now possible.

Taking control of the customer journey and influencing customer and prospective customer perceptions, where a negative experience can quickly go viral, is often critical to the success of any company, MVNOs are no different.

Updating systems that allow for better integration, of customer feedback and actions (such as social media, forums, and events), into MVNO decision-making and operational effectiveness can be transformative.

Expand Product and Service Offerings

Ultimately the success of an MVNO refresh initiative comes down to profitability.  Once an operational model is optimized, the biggest opportunity for boosting both revenues and profits comes down to what products and services are being offered to a customer.

Customer acquisition can be an expensive process.  Once you’ve landed a customer, much of the fixed costs have already been incurred and add-on sales can be highly profitable.  This is where working with influencers, developing product deals, and creating joint ventures with companies that have products and services to sell but need the MVNO for distribution, can be mutually beneficial.

Many MVNOs have gone in the direction of incorporating mobile wallet services, entertainment bundles, and events.  Future possibilities include consumer IoT (customized insurance pricing based on driving habits or home security/automation) and supporting logistics and other 5G private network use cases.


The MVNO model is just as viable today as when it started over 20 years ago.  However, MNVOs need to revisit their business, operating and marketing models to ensure that they align with their target segment and maximize customer’s value.

MVNOs must evaluate things from the ground up.  Often this means leveraging new technology, both the operational IT backbone and its connection to customer touchpoints.

That’s where triPica comes in.  triPica, an innovation leader in the telecom sector, has developed “transformative cloud-native SaaS solutions” that help their MVNO clients achieve a seamless connection with their customers.

Reach out to learn more.