Nick Wootten, MVNO director at BT Wholesale, talks about how 5G can open up the MVNO business
BT Wholesale’s MVNO practice serves the needs of around five million end users across the UK, a figure that looks set to rise.
In the past year, BT Wholesale has signed several deals with existing MVNOs – namely Transatel, Utility Warehouse and China Mobile – to provide them with improved network access via EE, including opening up access to 5G.
Mobile News caught up with Nick Wootten, MVNO director at BT Wholesale, to discuss the announcements and what lies ahead for the operator’s MVNO services.
HOW IS BT’S SERVICE SUPPORTING MVNOS AND THEIR CUSTOMERS?
There’s been no doubt of the growing importance of connectivity during the COVID-19 pandemic, as both consumers and businesses rely more on fixed and mobile networks than ever before.
A robust network experience is integral to this digital world, enabling MVNOs to focus on driving innovation. We’ve seen this notion reinforced through the MVNO industry, which continues to grow year-on-year. Insights show that the global MVNO market is currently valued at $62.5 billion and is forecast to increase to more than $100 billion by 2025.
We’re seeing this ring true within our own business. For example, our partner Transatel has just announced seven new MVNO partnerships in the UK, which will run over our 4G and 5G network.
This continued investment in new mobile brands during a global pandemic illustrates the importance of connectivity and how our mobile network is being chosen to enable standout customer experiences.
There’s also been an interesting shift in the MVNO market. While consumer brands accounted for the majority of MVNO industry revenue in the past, new players are starting to enter the market with a focus on different business segments.
We’re seeing interesting opportunities ranging from traditional channel resellers, fintech companies, smartphone vendors, utility companies and firms utilising MVNOs to bring their IoT propositions to market.
This rise in demand for connectivity anywhere, any time is why BT Wholesale is leading as an MVNO provider. We have more than 40 such brands across our network and expect to grow with more new partnerships over the next 18 months.
There is no better time for MVNOs to partner with BT Wholesale, with our 4G network providing speeds two to three times faster than our competitors. We’ve also been recognised as the number-one 5G network, with coverage in more places than any other MNO.
WHAT IS BT’S TRACK RECORD LIKE WITH MVNOS?
Working in tandem with our MVNO partners, we are bringing consistent connectivity to an ever-growing customer base and are supporting innovative technology. The joint efforts are touching customers’ lives far beyond traditional mobile connectivity.
Transatel has worked with BT Wholesale for more than a decade to bring some of the biggest and most creative brands to the MVNO market, ensuring continued growth and providing a seamless experience to UK mobile users.
The company relies on our network for the smooth operation of its fixed-mobile convergence solution, enabling seamless switching between the two connections.
Through our relationship with Transatel, we support many different types of MVNO, including utility companies such as Ecotricity and Utilita, business channel players like Abzorb, connected car manufacturers including Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and even connected aeroplanes with Airbus.
HAS COVID-19 IMPACTED 5G DEPLOYMENT IN A WAY THAT WOULD AFFECT MVNOS?
Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on many industries across the UK and around the world, it hasn’t slowed down progress or the demand for 5G connectivity.
Indeed, the pandemic has unveiled how important connectivity is. This has been particularly important for critical customers such as the NHS, which relies on superfast connectivity to deliver the best patient care, or emergency services that need a reliable connection to ensure they can respond to critical emergencies.
Similarly, there has been a need for good connectivity with hybrid and flexible working now becoming the norm.
Over the past year, we have extended a host of MVNO partnerships, including with China Mobile, Transatel and Utility Warehouse, and all of these brands will be able to provide a market-leading 5G experience to their customers.
The demand for 5G capability is only increasing, and we’re at the forefront of providing connectivity to our partners to help them deliver fantastic products.
WHAT LIES AHEAD FOR BT’S MVNO PRACTICE AND WHAT BENEFITS DO MVNOS BRING TO THE MARKET?
The business opportunities that our 5G network will bring are exciting. Increased speeds will improve the customer experience for use cases that exist today.
We’re looking forward to working with our partners to drive innovation through 5G-led technology, supported by the foundation of the UK’s best network.
In terms of MVNOs and their role in the business channel, it will be interesting to see how that develops. There is a lot of change in the wholesale market, with channel resellers constantly needing to adapt and pivot, and UK businesses increasingly expecting to serve and be served digitally.
Existing reseller relationships with MNOs are also increasingly under pressure as operators look to reduce the cost of revenue share.
For indirect partners with the ambition and ability to ride this change, being an MVNO is a natural evolution, giving them the platform to innovate, build their customer base and ultimately increase the value of their company with true customer ownership and customers who are loyal to their brand.