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MVNOs World Congress
The Event LoungeBrussels, Belgium

24-26 June 2024

Navigating today’s MVNO landscape: challenges and opportunities

Allan Rasmussen, Managing Director, YOZZO, discusses the key developments currently impacting MVNOs globally – looking at Nigeria’s mushrooming MVNO market, eSIM regulation, and the growing MVNO M&A trend.

What is your outlook for the large number of Nigerian mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) that have been granted licenses, and do you foresee any challenges? 

Currently, there is a range of issues that need fixing in Nigeria's MVNO landscape. The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) granted mobile virtual network aggregator (MVNA) and MVNO licenses to 43 companies last year. 

However, critical aspects of commercial, technical, and regulatory frameworks are missing, causing uncertainty for all parties involved. Issues such as anti-competitive practices, cost allocation, infrastructure standards, and the NCC's role in negotiations, remain unresolved.  

Additionally, capacity constraints for some mobile network operators (MNOs) and the absence of a comprehensive wholesale pricing framework further complicate matters. 

The recent drop in value of Nigeria’s currency, the Naira, could cause further issues, for example in relation to import of equipment and devices, or payment of foreign subject matter experts and partners. This is an issue not only for Nigeria’s MVNAs and MVNOs, but also for MNOs, as we have seen recently with MTN’s yearly result. 

These challenges may necessitate an extension of launch deadlines until regulatory issues can be addressed. Despite these obstacles, Nigeria's reputation for innovation and “leapfrogging” suggests a promising future for MVNOs in the country, with pioneers within the market poised to introduce innovative offerings. 

What is your opinion on the large number of (proposed) mergers currently occurring in the MVNO market? 

Mergers in the MVNO market, particularly acquisitions of MVNOs by MNOs, have been commonplace. In saturated or near-saturated markets, MNOs seek partnerships or acquisitions to sustain market growth amid increasing spectrum auction prices and infrastructure demands. 

However, MNO mergers present challenges such as layoffs, increased pricing, and reduced innovation and competition. Regulatory efforts to mitigate these consequences, such as requiring a certain number of MVNOs to be launched on merging parties' networks, have shown limited effectiveness due to lengthy implementation timelines. 

Nonetheless, the evolving role of MNOs, encompassing diverse sectors beyond telecoms, necessitates a revaluation of regulatory frameworks to ensure competitiveness and consumer protection. 

Which MVNO market do you think has the most potential for growth, and why? 

While Africa and Latin America show strong growth potential for MVNOs, Europe's mergers could create opportunities for new entrants. Additionally, the focus on IoT and end-user services, coupled with emerging regulatory support, presents avenues for expansion in these regions. 

In Asia, markets like Vietnam offer growth prospects, with existing MVNOs leveraging their assets to cross-sell core business offerings. However, regulatory developments, such as those in Thailand, will shape market dynamics and opportunities for MVNOs moving forward. 

What are you most looking forward to at MVNOs World Congress 2024? 

As an enthusiast deeply immersed in the MVNO landscape, I eagerly anticipate MVNOs World Congress 2024. This platform promises invaluable insights, innovations, and networking opportunities. I am looking forward to learning from presentations, engaging in discussions, and exploring new business prospects over Belgian chocolate and beer! 

What growth areas or challenges in the market are you most interested in learning about during MVNOs World Congress 2024? 

At the MVNOs World Congress 2024, I am keen to explore the challenges and innovations in Nigeria's MVNO market and find out more about examples of localised services tailored to meet consumer needs. 

Having lived in Thailand for almost two decades (and spent most of my spare time advocating for MVNOs in the country), I am eager to hear from Sarana Boonbaichaiyapruck, the Chair of Thai telecoms regulator, National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC). NBTC have announced a range of policies to promote MVNOs in Thailand, and I will be eager to hear the regulator’s future plans for our industry. 

Additionally, discussions on eSIM regulation and combating misuse will also be insightful, particularly amidst evolving market dynamics and consumer demands. 

Allan Rasmussen will be speaking at MVNOs World Congress 2024. Join us in Brussels from 24-26 June 2024 to discuss the latest industry developments impacting the MVNO sector.