2021 was a thundering year for the MVNO sector as its market size hit US$ 73.3 billion. Furthermore, forecasts were made that the industry is set to register a CAGR of 7.5% between 2022 and 2030, taking it to a staggering US$ 140.2 billion.

Of course, 2021 was also a year that was heavily influenced by the pandemic. A notable upshot of the various lockdowns was amplified consumer expectation for digital experiences and the emergence of new mobile behaviours.

The agile, responsive, and ‘digital-first’ approach of MVNOs meant the sector was able to flex adroitly to these demands and expectations and the foundations were laid for a 2022 rich in opportunity.

Here, we look at what these opportunities are and how they might be realised.

MVNOs will continue to adapt to evolving consumer expectations leading to new breakthroughs

As enforced restrictions on movement pushed consumers further towards digital solutions, data usage soared. Now, more than ever, users demand seamless digital experiences that meet their needs in a more personalised way and which comprise more diverse, differentiated, and feature-rich services.

Free from the burden of managing sprawling telecom networks and infrastructures, MVNOs have always had the ability to react and adapt to evolving consumer demands at greater speed than their MNO rivals. This added freedom will be further capitalised on in 2022 and MVNOs will not only react to these evolving demands but will innovate to enhance the communications ecosystem with new and exciting offerings.

Collaborations and partnerships will spread

Enhancing MVNOs’ ability to bring new and innovative mobile services to market will be a raft of industry-defining content collaborations and partnerships with various media platforms.

With the global situation vulnerable to sudden change as the threat of Covid-19 fluctuates, MVNOs will need to react to subsequent changes in consumer behaviour with even greater agility. For example, as and when international travel restrictions are lifted, new international call and roaming offers will be introduced with personalised, customisable packages developed for specific consumer requirements.

MVNOs to invest in their technology platforms

MVNOs will invest heavily into improving their technology platforms to facilitate the development of new products and improved service delivery.

Key technologies will include:

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning with data analytics – These technologies will further support improved customer personalisation and next-best action, provide data on device performance for IoT, and generally make operations more efficient.

e-SIM – e-SIMs offer improved ease of use by allowing for out-of-box connectivity with no installation required.

Blockchain – Particularly relevant for the likes of mobile payments and mobile banking, Blockchain will also feature within supply chain management and ecosystem partnerships.

Software Defined Networks (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) – SDN and NFV enable faster time-to-market (TTM) for new services and provide additional features. These include improved cost management of wholesale data on the host network by reducing video traffic via traffic shaping over virtualized packet gateways (PGW).

5G to enable a new generation of MVNOs

As 5G deployments continue to enable network slicing, a new breed of MVNOs will emerge that will focus on particular sectors with solutions that couple their connectivity requirements with cloud services and AI/big data solutions. Not only will these MVNOs enjoy significant growth, they will unlock the opportunity for smaller enterprises to access the power of these solutions.

With SDN (mentioned above), more self-service portals for enterprise services are already surfacing and will likely be extended so that MVNOs can bring new services to market quicker for smaller customers.

MVNOs will need to accommodate a more cost conscious customer-base

The rampant and ongoing uncertainty brought about by the pandemic has made consumers more cautious about their spending. As costs across all aspects of life continue to rise they will increasingly seek value from their contracts.

MVNOs will capitalise on this by developing strong value-driven propositions and introducing an expanding suite of new multimedia and high value consumer experiences thus creating compelling offers that consumers find difficult to reject.

In short, 2022 is set to be another exciting year for MVNOs. Consumer profiles have drastically changed over the last two years, and the sector has become increasingly attractive compared with traditional providers. With intelligent investments in digital and customer-centric experiences MVNOs can look forward to a year fizzing with promise.