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Market Size and Trends

Global mobile virtual network operators’ market is estimated to be valued at US$ 85.14 Bn in 2024 and is expected to reach US$ 146.31 Bn by 2031, exhibiting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8% from 2024 to 2031.

Mobile Virtual Network Operators Market Key Factors

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The market growth is driven by increasing need among consumers for comparatively inexpensive cellular plans and more customized offerings. Rising IoT connectivity broadens the subscriber base for MVNOs and allows new business models to emerge. However, cut-throat competition from telecom giants and regulatory challenges can hamper the market growth.

Emergence and spread of internet connectivity

The emergence and spread of internet connectivity has revolutionized how individuals utilize telecommunication services. With greater availability of affordable smartphones and high-speed data plans, people are increasingly using their mobile devices for a myriad daily tasks beyond just phone calls. This changing usage behaviour has encouraged mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) to offer innovative service packages that cater to different customer based on their connectivity needs. MVNOs serve as an agile alternative for consumers seeking specialized plans tailored to their preferences like opting for unlimited text or data while restricting talk time. By leveraging the infrastructure of traditional mobile network operators, MVNOs have greater flexibility to launch customized plans without bearing heavy network investment costs.

For instance, in June 2022, plan.com, a leading provider of business connectivity solutions in the U.K., expanded its mobile network offerings by launching a second network on its my.plan platform through a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) agreement with BT Wholesale. This partnership enables plan.com to offer its customers access to EE's 4G and 5G networks, providing them with more choice, flexibility, and superfast connectivity speeds. As an expert in delivering innovative productivity and connectivity solutions to U.K. businesses of all sizes, plan.com continues to enhance its my.plan platform, ensuring its customers can take full advantage of the latest mobile technologies to drive their success.

Market Concentration and Competitive Landscape

Mobile Virtual Network Operators Market Concentration By Players

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Growing demand for converged services from businesses

Growing demand for converged services from businesses can also drive the market growth. As digital transformation of enterprises gathers pace, reliable connectivity forms the backbone for supporting new applications and solutions. MVNOs provide multi-device connectivity solutions for businesses to seamlessly link their office infrastructure, employee mobile devices and Internet of Things solutions. This enables enterprises to simplify management of telecom services across their organisation. MVNOs package dedicated business plans with capabilities like fleet management, enterprise mobility management and virtual private networks. These assist companies of varied sizes to mobilize their workforce, boost productivity and optimize communication costs. Particularly for small and medium enterprises with smaller and geographically dispersed operations, MVNOs emerge as a cost-effective way to meet all telecom requirements through one provider. This trend of enterprises increasingly turning to MVNOs for their connectivity requirement can offer market opportunities.

Key Takeaways from Analyst:

Global mobile virtual network operators  market is witnessing robust growth, with North America dominating the market and Asia Pacific emerging as the fastest growing region. North America's dominance can be attributed to the region's favorable regulatory environment that has fostered the development of MVNOs. The U.S. and Canada are at the forefront of MVNO adoption, with major players leveraging targeted pricing strategies and innovative distribution tactics to capture market share.

The rapid deployment of 5G networks and increasing penetration of mobile devices boosts demand for MVNO services in the region. Countries like China, Japan, India, and South Korea are expected to contribute significantly to the region's growth, as MVNOs capitalize on the growing appetite for affordable and tailored mobile services.

Rising adoption of IoT device and need for seamless connectivity across various industries, including automotive, electronics, and robotics can drive the market growth.

Market Challenges: High dependence on host networks

High dependence on host networks can hamper the market growth. MVNOs do not own any network infrastructure of their own and have to fully rely on the host network for providing telecom services to their customers. This high reliance on host networks for accessing spectrum, infrastructure and core network functions limits the capabilities of MVNOs. These have less control over service quality and customer experience as compared to MNOs as these cannot independently optimize or upgrade their networks. Any issues or congestion on the host networks directly impacts the services provided by MVNOs.

MVNOs find it difficult to rapidly introduce new technologies, plans or value-added services. With no infrastructure of their own, MVNOs have limited bargaining power to negotiate competitive agreements with MNO hosts. Host operators can dictate pricing, service-level agreements and other contract terms, which impacts the viability of MVNO business models. There are also geographic limitations as MVNOs can only offer services in areas covered by the host's network footprint. These constrained flexibility to expand into new regions independently.

Market Opportunities: Emergence of 5G technology

The emergence of 5G technology  revolutionizes the mobile industry by delivering faster speeds and higher network capacity as compared to previous generations of mobile technology. 5G provides speeds around 100 times faster than current 4G networks, and can support connections for millions of devices simultaneously. This increase in speed and capacity offers huge opportunities for mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) to differentiate their offerings and target new customer segments. With 5G, MVNOs will be able to provide high-bandwidth connectivity required for emerging applications such as autonomous driving, augmented/virtual reality, industrial IoT, and telemedicine. This greater bandwidth allows MVNOs to explore innovative service plans tailored for specific usage cases.

Mobile Virtual Network Operators Market By Service Type

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Insights, By Service Type- Affordability and Coverage Drive 4G MVNO Growth

In terms of service type, 4G MVNO segment is estimated to contribute the highest market share of 49.7% in 2024, owing to the affordability and coverage it offers to consumers. 4G MVNO plans are often significantly cheaper than traditional post-paid plans from major carriers, thus, making mobile services accessible to more budget-conscious users. By avoiding the high costs of building and maintaining their own network infrastructure, 4G MVNOs are able to offer low-priced plans while still providing nationwide coverage through wholesale agreements with host networks. This cost efficiency has boosted the adoption of 4G MVNO plans among cost-sensitive consumers as well as niche customer groups such as teenagers and seniors on fixed incomes. Moreover, many 4G MVNOs target their offers at international travellers or immigrant communities seeking an affordable option for cross-border communications. The accessibility of 4G MVNOs in terms of price and coverage can drive the segment growth.

Insights, By Operational Model- Partnership Models Drive Full MVNO Dominance

In terms of operational model, full MVNO segment is estimated to contribute the highest market share of 47.5% in 2024, owing to the partnership and operational flexibility it provides. As full MVNOs control their own branding, marketing and customer management while gaining access to host networks, these have more leverage than other MVNO types to differentiate through segmentation, customization and value-added services. This allows Full MVNOs to target a wider variety of customer niches compared to resellers with less autonomy. Full MVNOs also face lower barriers to entry as these can launch operations quickly by partnering with major MNOs and negotiating favourable terms. The independent operational model has enabled Full MVNOs to establish diverse partner networks covering multiple host providers, providing flexibility in sourcing capacity. Such advantages in branding, targeting and sourcing have made the Full MVNO model appealing to both startups and more established MVNOs aiming for scale.

Insights, By End User- Tailored Plans Drive MVNO Consumer Dominance

In terms of end user, consumer segment is estimated to contribute the highest market share of 58.3% in 2024, owing to tailored plan offerings targeted specifically to their diverse needs. MVNOs have risen to meet these varying needs through extensive plan bundles, including plans tailored for light users, heavy streamers or international travellers. Some examples include plans bundled with streaming subscriptions, unlimited social media packages or low-cost roaming-enabled plans. MVNOs also offer flexible plans of shorter durations to suit lifestyle changes. Such personalized options at competitive prices have resonated well with consumers looking for tailored mobile value. As data consumption rises across more consumer groups, MVNOs are well-poised to capture growing demand through ongoing plan innovation and unbundling of mobile services.

Regional Insights

Mobile Virtual Network Operators Market Regional Insights

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North America has emerged as the dominant region in the global mobile virtual network operators market with an estimated market share of 36.3% in 2024, due to presence of MVNOs in the region.

North American consumers have shown high acceptance towards alternative telecom options beyond traditional carriers. This can be evidenced from the popularity of MVNO brands that bring disruptive offers focusing on value, flexibility or specialized customer needs. Their innovative bundling of connectivity, OTT services and devices at affordable prices have resonated well with consumers looking for best possible choices. This demand driven adoption has further encouraged new MVNO launches.

Asia Pacific region, especially emerging countries like India and Indonesia, are witnessing the fastest growth rates in the market. A major factor driving their appeal is the large population segments still untapped by traditional mobile operators. By focusing on these customers with low-cost prepaid offers, MVNOs aim to gain sizeable market shares in the near future.

Some Asia Pacific nations also have more relaxed regulatory frameworks than Western countries, allowing smooth MVNO operations. For example, Indonesia has incentivized infrastructure sharing that reduces barriers of MVNO operations. Their pro-consumer regulations and investments in network upgrades can drive the market growth. Rising imports of affordable smartphones combined with rising data consumption boosts demand for flexible mobile data plans that independent MVNO brands provides.

Market Report Scope

Mobile Virtual Network Operators Market Report Coverage

Report Coverage Details
Base Year: 2023 Market Size in 2024: US$ 85.14 Bn
Historical Data for: 2019 to 2023 Forecast Period: 2024 to 2031
Forecast Period 2024 to 2031 CAGR: 8% 2031 Value Projection: US$ 146.31 Bn
Geographies covered:
  • North America: U.S., Canada
  • Latin America: Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Rest of Latin America
  • Europe: Germany, U.K., France, Russia, Rest of Europe
  • Asia Pacific: China, India, Japan, Australia, South Korea, ASEAN, Rest of Asia Pacific
  • Middle East & Africa: GCC Countries, South Africa, Rest of Middle East & Africa
Segments covered:
  • By Service Type: 4G MVNO, 5G MVNO, Others
  • By Operational Model: Full MVNO, Reseller MVNO, Service Operator MVNO
  • By End User: Consumer and Enterprise 
Companies covered:

Airvoice Wireless, Amdocs, Asahi Net Inc., AT&T Inc., Boost Mobile, BT Group plc, Deutsche Telekom AG, FreedomPop, Friendi Mobile, Kajeet Inc., KDDI Corporation, Lebara, Lycamobile, Orange S.A., SK Telecom Co. Ltd

Growth Drivers:
  • Emergence and spread of internet connectivity
  • Growing demand for converged services from businesses
Restraints & Challenges:
  • High dependence on host networks
  • Regulatory challenges in management of spectrum allocation

Key Developments

  • In July 2023, Lyca Mobile, a mobile virtual network operator, announced a partnership with BT Wholesale. This strategic alliance aims to provide Lyca Mobile's customers in the U.K. with direct access to EE's 4G and 5G networks.
  • In May 2023, Mobi, a U.S.-based wireless carrier, announced an exclusive, multi-year MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) agreement with T-Mobile, a 5G network provider. This partnership enables Mobi customers to access the power and nationwide coverage of T-Mobile's network, allowing them to stay connected both at home in the islands and throughout the continental United States.
  • In July 2022, Boost Mobile launched its Connected Car solution, providing a turnkey in-vehicle internet service with flexible pricing options. This offering enables anyone to easily add Wi-Fi connectivity to their car, allowing them to connect multiple devices such as tablets, laptops, and smartphones while on the road. During long drives, passengers can now stream content, browse the web, and enjoy their favorite audio without consuming data from their personal mobile plans. Connected Car plan includes a dedicated in-car Wi-Fi hotspot with access to 5GB of high-speed 4G LTE data.
  • In June 2022, Reach Mobile, a leading provider of wholesale connectivity solutions, announced the extension of its strategic Wholesale-as-a-Service (WaaS) agreement with T-Mobile, the largest 5G network operator in the U.S. Through this partnership, the companies will leverage Reach Mobile's ReachNEXT platform, a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution, to help businesses rapidly and seamlessly launch a variety of network-based services, including mobile, fixed wireless access, IoT, and more. The ReachNEXT platform simplifies the process of monetizing networks, enabling T-Mobile's wholesale customers to quickly bring innovative wireless offerings to market.
  • In August 2022, Verizon announced a new offer for college students, providing them access to its award-winning Fios fiber optic internet service starting at just US$ 20 per month. This discounted rate is available when students sign up for Fios with AutoPay and select 5G mobile plans from Verizon.

*Definition: The Global Mobile Virtual Network Operators Market refers to the business of providing mobile network services to customers by mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) without owning the wireless network infrastructure themselves. MVNOs lease wireless network capacity from traditional mobile network operators at wholesale rates and then set up their own billing, customer acquisition and support systems to provide mobile services under their own brandname. These target underserved segments and offer attractive data plans and bundled services to attract customers. The MVNO market is growing globally as more operators enter this space to gain new subscribers and increase revenue streams.

Market Segmentation

  •  Service Type Insights (Revenue, US$ Bn, 2019 - 2031)
    • 4G MVNO
    • 5G MVNO
    • Others
  •  Operational Model Insights (Revenue, US$ Bn, 2019 - 2031)
    • Full MVNO
    • Reseller MVNO
    • Service Operator MVNO
  •  End User Insights (Revenue, US$ Bn, 2019 - 2031)
    • Consumer
    • Enterprise
  • Regional Insights (Revenue, US$ Bn, 2019 - 2031)
    • North America
      • U.S.
      • Canada
    • Latin America
      • Brazil
      • Argentina
      • Mexico
      • Rest of Latin America
    • Europe
      • Germany
      • U.K.
      • France           
      • Russia
      • Rest of Europe
    • Asia Pacific
      • China
      • India
      • Japan
      • Australia
      • South Korea
      • ASEAN
      • Rest of Asia Pacific
    • Middle East & Africa
      • GCC Countries                             
      • South Africa
      • Rest of Middle East & Africa
  • Key Players Insights
    • Airvoice Wireless
    • Amdocs
    • Asahi Net Inc.
    • AT&T Inc.
    • Boost Mobile
    • BT Group plc
    • Deutsche Telekom AG
    • FreedomPop
    • Friendi Mobile
    • Kajeet Inc.
    • KDDI Corporation
    • Lebara
    • Lycamobile
    • Orange S.A.
    • SK Telecom Co. Ltd.

Frequently Asked Questions

The CAGR of global mobile virtual network operators market is projected to be 8% from 2024 to 2031.

Emergence and spread of internet connectivity and growing demand for converged services from businesses are the major factors driving the growth of global mobile virtual network operators market.

High dependence on host networks and regulatory challenges in management of spectrum allocation are the major factors hampering the growth of global mobile virtual network operators market.

In terms of service type, 4G MVNO segment is estimated to dominate the market in 2024.

Airvoice Wireless, Amdocs, Asahi Net Inc., AT&T Inc., Boost Mobile, BT Group plc, Deutsche Telekom AG, FreedomPop, Friendi Mobile, Kajeet Inc., KDDI Corporation, Lebara, Lycamobile, Orange S.A., SK Telecom Co. Ltd. are the major players.

North America is expected to lead the global mobile virtual network operators market in 2024.

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