Art Yonemoto
Art Yonemoto is President of Yonemoto & Associates. He has been conducting Telecom (Landline and Wireless) audits for 21 years...
Read Full Bio >>

Art Yonemoto | August 24, 2016 |


Saving Dollars and Cents with MVNOs

Saving Dollars and Cents with MVNOs Opting for a Mobile Virtual Network Operator may help you cut mobile costs and lead to a better customer experience.

Opting for a Mobile Virtual Network Operator may help you cut mobile costs and lead to a better customer experience.


Imagine you own a high level hotel with 800 rooms. On average, you sell 500 rooms at a premium price ($600/night). However, you realize that you are losing revenue with 300 rooms going empty every night. While you could lower your rates, and sell more rooms, this will tarnish your "premium brand" identity. How can you obtain additional incremental revenue for capacity that would go unused every night?

One solution is to sell a bulk number of rooms (i.e. 100 room) to a consolidator who will resell the rooms under their label. The consolidator will do its own marketing, sales, service, etc., and resell the room, usually at a lower price. Thus, you can retain your premium brand identity, while still gaining additional revenue by selling excess capacity to the consolidators. Of course, the problem with this scenario is that the consumer who buys the hotel via a third-party consolidator, will know they are getting your premium room at a discount.

Now imagine you are a Mobile Network Operator (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile), and you also have plenty of spare capacity. Rather than get nothing for this extra capacity, you enter into agreements with MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operator). These companies will buy your excess network access at wholesale prices and then resell their services at their own prices. And unlike the hotel example, your network remains opaque (i.e. consumers generally do not know whose network they are using). Thus, if you are Verizon, AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile, you can sell your excess capacity without jeopardizing your premium pricing.

There are about 300 US MVNOs, which represents about 14% of the overall market. In other developed countries such as the Netherlands and Germany, the MVNOs represent 40% of the market. As the wireless market matures and the need to upgrade phones is less compelling, the MVNO market share is expected to grow. Without a compelling reason to upgrade, pricing will become a larger factor in choosing a wireless company.

Now If you are happy with the network performance of your current wireless provider (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint), you have an unlocked phone, and are at the end of a term, you should check out which MVNOs use their network. You may be able to save up to 50% by switching to a MVNO that uses your current network.

The following are some popular MVNOs and the network(s) they use.


For some MVNO's the relationship with a carrier's network goes beyond simply using their network. They are actually owned by the carrier. For example, Cricket is owned by AT&T, Virgin Mobile by Sprint, and Metro PCS by T-Mobile.

Successful MVNOs compete by tailoring their products/services to specific consumer markets:

  • Family/Group Plans (Boost and Cricket) -- Cricket (owned by AT&T), has a $110 group plan for 4 devices with 2.5 GB per device. When a device reaches its data limit, the speed is reduced to 2G speeds to avoid overage charges.
  • Seniors -- The Jitterbug phone from GreatCall is designed for seniors, with big buttons, a loud speaker, and a large text display. Additional features include daily/weekly calls, an operator who can place calls or make appointments for the user, and a one-touch button to call 911.
  • Frugal -- Republic Wireless has a plan starting at $5/month (voice and text only) and a $10/month (with data added). The secret of Republic is its dependency on Wi-Fi. By extensively using Wi-Fi, Republic avoids paying carriers to handle its traffic. If you're usually near Wi-Fi (i.e. home) this can an inexpensive solution. As an added bonus, Republic allows users to place free voice calls from international locations (via Wi-Fi).

While you can save money by using MVNOs, there may be some drawbacks:

  • Limited phone selection -- The type of phones supported may be severely limited with a MVNO. For example, Republic Wireless only supports Samsung Galaxy, Motorola MOTO and Huawei Nexus phones.
  • No 4G or LTE Service -- Some MVNOs do not support 4G/LTE service; for example, GreatCall.
  • Data limits -- Some MVNOs do not offer unlimited data plans. For those who do, they may throttle data usage once you exceed a certain limit. For example, Cricket LTE limits its speed to 8 MB, which is OK for social media use but may not suffice for streaming HD video.
  • Streaming -- Even with unlimited data plans, some may restrict streaming.

Assuming that you are satisfied with your current major service provider (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile), it may make sense to check out the MVNOs that use its networks. In addition to saving money, the added bonus is better customer support. In the latest Consumer Report rankings, Consumer Cellular, Ting and Republic were the top three, while the major carriers were at the bottom. You can have your cake and eat it, too.

"SCTC Perspectives" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants, an international organization of independent information and communications technology professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.


October 24, 2018

With disparate workplaces and ever-expanding volumes of information to manage, the challenges for collaborating effectively are only intensifying. Many critical applications are not integrated, and

October 10, 2018

Businesses are growing across international borders quicker than ever, but scaling operations to follow suit can be a harder, longer process.

This webinar focuses on scaling your next-generat

September 26, 2018

Join Kevin Kieller, Microsoft UC&C expert, along with Ribbon Communications and Polycom, for an update on Microsoft Ignite, and a focus on critical things you need to know about your voice deployme

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.