What is a Mobile Network Operator (MNO)?A Mobile Network Operator (MNO) is a telecommunications company that has acquired radio frequency (assets) from the regulator in a specific country to provide its infrastructure and equipment. MNO is located at the top of the “mountain” and provides connectivity infrastructure to its users and in some cases, also resells this infrastructure to others. MNOs use the frequency (spectrum) that they purchase to deploy multiple radio sites (cells and antennas) and gain coverage in a specific region or country. MNOs are obligated by law to provide a certain percentage of coverage in the region. Your calls and texts are broadcast over the airwaves using these frequencies.
What is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO)?A Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) is a company providing mobile services to customers. MVNOs do not need a government-issued radio frequency license. MNOs resell infrastructure (connectivity calls and texts) to any company that wants to become a MVNO – in many countries they require a lighter license than an MNO, are usually less expensive and less demanding. The Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) is simply a company that buys wholesale traffic from an MNO and repackages it to sell to its users. An example can be: a US MVNO will choose to purchase traffic from AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon, which it then resells to consumers and businesses. MVNOs have access to better prices and can build B2B and B2C solutions under the telecom wholesale framework.
There are two types of MVNO’s: Light MVNO and Full MVNOLight MVNO is an MVNO that only resells the MNO services without being the owner of the network or assets. Much like a supermarket that creates its own “White Label” for food and other products. Full MVNO is a company with full network ownership, excluding radio frequencies. Such a company builds an entire cellular network with all the needed components and just has a roaming agreement with the MNO for the traffic. Full MVNO has a massive advantage in its independence, flexibility, resilience, and features for its users. Full MVNO can also work with multiple MNOs to gain superior coverage as it is not limited to a single network.
The Difference between MVNO and MNO
|Features||MNO||Light MVNO||Full MVNO|
|Deployment speed||Slow||Depends on MNO||Fast|
|Flexibility||Some, but changes happen slowly||None||Fully flexible|
|Globality||Partial||Is Global||Is Global|
|Price||Traditionally high||Affordable||Flexible and customized to your needs|
- MVNOs can provide their own customer care support services and provide their customers with the assistance they require, including answering any queries they may have about the services offered by the MVNOs.
- MNOs are more likely to charge more than MVNOs since they must face the costs of erecting their own towers to ensure that their customers have access to network coverage.