The 2.7bn unique mobile subscribers across the APAC region represent a market unrivalled anywhere else. According to Analysys Mason, “Emerging Asia–Pacific will continue to be one of the fastest growing regions in the world in terms of telecoms revenue”. With that in mind, it came with little surprise, if none at all, that the MVNO market in region was named the front runner when it comes to the growth opportunities at the Shaping the Global MVNO Market 2018 survey conducted this spring by KNect365 TMT Division.
Ahead of this year’s MVNOs Asia in Singapore, the MVNOs Series team spoke with Ivan Landen, Chief Executive Officer at Blue Wireless, on the performance of the MVNO sector in the Asia Pacific region, the role of Fintech in changing the banking landscape and the opportunities of 5G enrolment for the telco ecosystem and MVNO businesses.
Please tell us a bit more about the projects you’ve been working on recently.
As a wireless network service provider, we serve enterprises with 4G/LTE solutions to connect branches and IOT projects across the Asia Pacific region. Our MVNO model is unique in that we leverage multiple 4G/LTE networks per country, allowing us to mix and match network coverage and provide dual SIM services. Combined with our expertise in antennas and field services, we are able to provide reliable connectivity in difficult situations. For instance, we recently kicked off a project to provide high-speed WIFI on Sydney Harbour Ferries. But also in mining and energy, for instance connecting windfarms in remote locations in Australia using long-range 4G/LTE. All these projects require more then just a SIM card, it’s a combination of good equipment, multiple networks and ongoing management to ensure 100% uptime.
How has the MVNO sector performed throughout 2017 and into 2018 – what are the major trends and challenges faced?
The number of MVNOs in the Asia Pacific region has continued to grow over the last 12 months, with a range of new launches. Most of the MVNOs still follow the traditional ‘selling SIMs to consumers’ model, such as the recently launched MyRepublic in Singapore. But there are also now MVNOs focusing on new segments, such as Blue Wireless, using an MVNO model to offer specialized WAN access services for enterprises. For MVNOs just offering a SIM card, price pressure will be enormous and segment marketing is not going to provide long-term differentiation. Especially for the business segment, the buying trend is ‘anything as a service’ and being able to take away complexity and solving business needs is more important than price,
Which technologies do you see as a major driver of change across global MVNO markets in the coming years?
IOT, 5G, eSIM are all developments which will offer major opportunities in the enterprise and government sector, enabling new applications around augmented reality, robotics and autonomous vehicles to name a few. So, a very exciting area to be in and develop new services.
The traditional consumer- and handphone market will surely benefit from the investments in 5G, such as higher speed, but is not expected to change as drastically as the enterprise- and IOT segments.
For Telco’s rolling out 5G networks, MVNOs will be crucial to make their networks commercially viable as it’s simply impossible for Telco’s to cater for all the different industries and new applications themselves. While traditionally Telco’s might entertain a handful MVNOs on their network, in 5G, they have to cater for potentially hundreds. Their focus will change to building and operating networks and MVNOs are essential for them in getting a return on their investments.
How will Blockchain impact the MVNO market? And, what’s the role of Fintech in changing the banking landscape?
Blockchain is a technical innovation which will enable new applications and business models, but won’t have much impact on the connectivity aspects of MVNOs per-se.
Asia has been leading when it comes to digital payments and banking over the last decade and is expected to continue to lead in this area with the ongoing developments in FinTech. With Asia being a mobile first eco-system, it’s essential for MVNOs to keep abreast of these developments and cater to these new developments for their customer segments.
What do you see as the main prospects for and drivers of growth in the APAC MVNO market?
The enterprise and government sector has certainly most opportunities as the new technical developments around 5G will enable new applications and business models. Key will be to develop features which are important to the specific segments. For example, today Blue Wireless already offers enterprise customers the ability to leverage multiple networks, which offers increased coverage (less blind spots!) and thus business reliability. Another commercial innovation is the concept of shared data pool, where all connections share the same data bundle across the company, rather than having individual subscriptions. Blue Wireless offers shared data pools across multiple networks and -countries, which provides real cost benefits for enterprise customers running different devices and applications. These features are unavailable in the traditional MVNO offering focused on consumers SIMs.