MTN launched a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) service in October which allows operators without their own radio access networks to use MTNs infrastructure to launch mobile services.
“We expect MVNO subscribers across the country to double over the next five years, with several large players introducing offerings,” said MTN Managed Network Services acting executive Quintus De Beer upon the service’s launch.
“MTN is excited to be an enabler of this further growth path by putting our network capacity to work, as the rapid pace of digital change requires more agile and tailored solutions so that more people can benefit.”
Cell C was previously the only mobile network to offer an MVNO service, and popular MVNOs on Cell C’s network include Standard Bank Mobile, FNB Connect, Mr Price Mobile, and Virgin Mobile SA.
But with Cell C in the process of shutting down its own radio access network, the timing of MTN’s new offering could be a major advantage if the growth De Beer predicted comes to pass.
MTN’s MVNO strategy
MTN executive of corporate affairs Jacqui O’Sullivan told MyBroadband that MTN has identified major potential in the MVNO industry.
“The MVNO space in SA remains ripe for growth as it is under-served, providing an ideal opportunity for MTN to harness its excess network capacity to brighten more lives,” said O’Sullivan.
“At MTN, we are gearing up to serve the broader digital eco-system to ensure more people can benefit from a modern, connected life. The aim is to scale our wholesale business through effective utilisation of our network.”
“Bringing MTN MVNO to market makes good business sense – the service will cater for various under-served sectors of the economy that include entertainment, media, business, education, M2M and sports, to name a few,” added O’Sullivan.
O’Sullivan noted that its MVNO partnerships will not signal a major change to its primary business model, and will instead complement its core business offerings.
“We will operate a ‘MVNO Light’ model, these MVNO partnerships will be pursued as a complementary business to our current retail business – we will continue focusing on our core business offerings,” said O’Sullivan.
The effect on connectivity in South Africa
De Beer said that MVNOs have offered major benefits to Internet users around the world.
“Worldwide people have benefited from the experiences that MVNOs bring to the market and with the unique challenges South Africa face, we see this as an important platform to enable a better life for all,” said De Beer.
He added that MVNOs are critical to reaching more South African customers.
“We believe everyone deserves the benefits of modern, connected life. By entering the MVNO space, we are growing South Africa’s digital eco-system by enabling more value and services for consumers,” said De Beer.
“This makes business sense, as we are putting the best network to work for more people, in a managed and sensible manner.”