I recently attended the MVNO Summit in Sydney, where I heard from and lectured to people interested in this important sector of the market. As part of a market analysis session, the question was raised “why don’t PSTN providers also offer mobiles?”
We started off providing billing for fixed-wire services, and this was pretty easy, from both a provisioning, rating and pricing perspective. The service being provided was very simple, and the way it was sold was equally so. Some of our Partners expressed an interest in billing mobiles as well, and we helped them do that.
But mobiles are a whole other story. Firstly, the provisioning systems needed to be real-time rather than batch. You couldn’t just send over a file of phone numbers to a wholesale carrier to get them churned and placed on the white list. You had to have a system that connected (possibly via a secure VPN) to a carrier system (which may or may not have existed). These things took many months to implement, from both sides of the coin.
And then there was the rating and pricing. Instead of just working out how much to mark up each call type, you (the SP/MVNO) had to understand all of the call types and services associated with the mobile product, create complex rate plans with loss leaders or cross-subsidies like the larger companies, and then implement those in your billing system. And not just implement, but allow the mobile and fixed-wire products to co-exist on the same bill.
Then you had to make the shift from a totally “soft” product to one that involved inventory – SIM cards, handsets, and everything involved in supporting those things when they are in the field.
This was a world very far from the “comfort zone” of reselling fixed-wire services. No wonder they have not been in a rush to embrace it. I would estimate that well over half have tried, but only 10% have experienced a degree of success.
What do you think are the barriers, or keys to success in adding mobiles to PSTN?