Today’s MVNO Secret Sauce: Creating Specialty Solutions and Increased Functionality through Open-Source
By Darren Schreiber
MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) have enjoyed a well-developed industry for some time in European markets. However, for those in the U.S., the landscape has historically been different. The Big 4 MNOs have been the default go-to for many customers and businesses. MVNOs have traditionally been the exception to the rule, struggling to maintain relevancy in the telecom marketplace. The MVNO relationship with U.S. customers has been defined by a high churn rate, low profit margins and minor product differentiation.
In recent years, however, that trend has started to change. About one in ten of the US mobile connections are now running through a virtual operator. Competition among the Big 4 to increase subscriber counts at whatever cost, coupled with demand from consumers for more flexible services has given birth to over 140 MVNOs in the US alone. Recognized brands such as TracFone, Cricket, Net10, Straight Talk, and Virgin Mobile are legitimate alternatives to the Big 4 MNOs. So what does the modern MVNO look like, and how can they differentiate and adapt to new markets?
Differentiated Products: The Key to Success
Customer plans in the MVNO market have historically been based on offering regular cell phone service with only slight variations: payment models (pre-pay vs. post-pay), distribution (retail outlets/ wireless stores/ online only), and handsets for specialty niche markets (seniors, low-income, children, etc). The network-based service itself has been almost exactly the same from one carrier to another, and there are few mechanisms to increase customer loyalty and reduce attrition. But because of platform independence, MVNOs can now stand out and bring new innovations to the market, which benefits themselves, the carrier, and the customer.
So how are the New MVNOs differentiating?
Increased Features – Small businesses and individuals alike are increasingly demanding rich services that incorporate enterprise level features. Conferencing, call recording, call control, web access & services, custom apps, device groups, and number management are just normal parts of a sophisticated MVNO offering.
Offloading – Software and handset configuration options can be set on the consumer or MVNO side, thereby giving the ability to further tailor services to both consumers and seller alike. Some MVNOs, such as FreedomPop, can allow voice and data services with free entry level plans, while others, like Scratch Wireless, allow free VoIP and messaging over WiFi with cellular as an add-on. This ability lowers costs by utilizing different methods for the same type of service that customers are used to getting from a cell tower.
Bundling – MNOs are replacing fixed-line services with 4G based products, especially in rural & suburban areas. Many consumers enjoy the ease of a house phone with the convenience of a data connection that comes with no wires. MVNOs can evolve to meet customer needs and expand service offerings by bundling their SaaS product with fixed-line and other services.
Business and Enterprise Services – One of the fastest areas of growth right now for MVNOs is in the SMB/Enterprise segment, where both MVNOs and Managed Service Providers offer Integrated Fixed and Mobile device management options. These are typically pre-paid plans that bring in highly reliable revenue streams. MVNOs that can also bundle to sell VoIP, data, software and backhaul solutions increase their revenue potential dramatically, diversifying their options and reducing dependency on exclusively mobile features.
Data Only Devices - As the “Internet of Things” gains popularity in the market, the inevitable proliferation of brand new devices will require connectivity. MVNOs and MVNEs (Mobile Virtual Network Enabler) provide a perfect way to bridge the gap through automating activation, device tracking, inventory services and manufacturer integrations . Selling a connected, or “smart” thermostat, for example, might have previously required a contract with a carrier where a manufacturer commits to millions of units so that the units can come pre-loaded with inexpensive connectivity to the internet. With MVNOs, the requirements for such a device might be for just a few hundred or thousand, and software modifications might allow multiple networks (cellular or Wi-Fi) to be utilized by the same device for redundancy.
Open Source: The Key to Ultimate Differentiation
Carriers are typically averse to building an extensive service structure because it involves coordinating with system vendors, long deployment cycles, capital investment, and yet does not guarantee revenue. MVNOs are not burdened by these legacy systems, and can start building their business using uncluttered new solutions. They are adapting to the rich new market of cloud-based services that offer SaaS pricing models, built on software that’s flexible for a wide array of customer offerings. Customers are realizing this capability and are beginning to demand advanced functionality that MNOs cannot quickly deploy.
2600hz: The MVNO Swiss Army Knife
2600hz is a game-changer for MVNO’s with a unique hybrid-cloud platform, removing the barriers between telecom systems and its users. By offering an open-source solution that integrates mobile and fixed-line services, 2600hz enables MVNOs to offer highly differentiated products into the market. Furthermore, by utilizing a hybrid-cloud model, 2600hz allows companies to deploy Voice, Messaging, and Data Solutions in an on-demand, highly scalable and always-on environment.
With the 2600hz platform, MVNOs can provision and manage both handsets and devices through one convenient interface. Clients on the 2600hz platform can easily add phone numbers, control feature availability, monitor their cluster and integrate with traditional fixed line offerings in the home and enterprise. This allows MVNOs to offer highly customized services that uplift revenue and increase user lock-in, without long deployment schedules or intensive capital investment. The net effect is a dramatic reduction in rollout costs for all services, and a clear path for increased ARPU.
2600hz integrates well with other hardware, software and content providers, maximizing value for bundled offerings. Additionally, 2600hz offers completely new features to MVNO offerings, including conference bridges, find-me-follow me, call recording, and multi-identity services on a handset that make work and personal calls from the same phone using different Caller IDs. 2600hz customers experience seamless call transitions between WebRTC browser phones and desk or mobile phones mid-call, using the same phone number across all devices. With 2600hz, MVNOS have endless opportunities to natively integrate advanced features and customizations to the end user.
2600hz is now attracting two different markets: People who are reselling our services and white-labeling it as their own, and people who are already selling MVNO services who want integration with our open-source platform. But you don’t even have to be an MVNO to get started. Thanks to 2600hz’s unique partnership with Sprint, we are able to offer both per user and wholesale rates to interested partners without an active MVNO agreement. Whether you’d like to resell fixed and mobile service and white-label it as your own, or if you already offer MVNO services and want to utilize our open-source platform for advanced offerings, 2600hz has a solution to fit your needs.
Leverage Open-Source for Maximum Value
MVNOs who are willing to offer a wide array of hardware and features to the end user have a significant advantage over their competitors. By leveraging open-source operating systems on both the handset and the network, MVNOs can offer significantly differentiated voice, data and messaging to their customers at a fraction of the cost.
MVNOs that want to take advantage of increased device sales need distributed, scalable systems that can handle the increased demand on provisioning and back-end services, and still be flexible to offer customizations to the end user experience. These customizations require open, innovative software, which is both inexpensive and quick to adapt, a need that only open-source can realistically fill. 2600hz is an industry enabler for MVNOs looking to be at the forefront introducing these technological innovations. So, how would you like to differentiate?
2600hz to Join Other Telecom Innovators at ComCon to Kick Off Super Mobility Week
2600hz Provides Scalability and Improvement to SendHub’s Mobile Business Phone System
We are proud to announce that we have partnered with SendHub, the leading provider of all-in-one mobile business phone systems. As part of this partnership, SendHub has integrated with our Kazoo platform to meet their growing demand from businesses and enhance their customers’ experience.
SendHub is a rapidly growing company, enabling businesses to utilize fully-featured voice capabilities, mobile messaging and enterprise analytics on any device out of the box. With this 2600hz integration, SendHub was able to migrate their customers seamlessly to a multi-region installation of Kazoo on their assets. This collaboration ensures that SendHub’s final product corresponds with their vision of providing crystal-clear call quality for all of their business customers.
SendHub as well is contributing back to the open source community by maturing Kazoo’s WebRTC support, adding new features and fixing bugs.
So what are we providing Sendhub?
WebRTC Feature - We worked closely with SendHub to develop a custom WebRTC solution, replacing its existing core client library. The new solution provides support for both WebRTC and RTMP, enabling SendHub to utilize the latest advances in web technology while still supporting clients using older browsers.
Carrier Flexibility – SendHub has improved call quality control and can provide enhanced service to their customers. SendHub can also find and acquire contracts that better suit their business model or utilize 2600hz carrier relationships by purchasing minutes and DID’s from 2600hz, including international numbers.
Redundancy – The Kazoo platform was deployed on SendHub’s servers, providing redundancy across the cloud by utilizing servers as independent and pervasive nodes.
Scalable Backend – We are providing tier 2 & 3 monitoring, routine maintenance, and upgrades to SendHub systems. As SendHub grows its user base, we will advise on where to expand to ensure that its system is optimized for the user load.
Read the full press release: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08/prweb12119644.htm
2600hz Now Supports the iPhone
2600hz and SureTax® Partner, Adding Tax Calculation Services to the 2600hz Platform
2600hz, the leading provider of mobile and cloud telecom technology, announced today that it is partnering with SureTax to integrate SureTax Telecom into 2600hz’s Kazoo platform. This strategic partnership allows 2600hz to leverage the rating, reporting and tax calculation services offered by SureTax through a turn-key solution that integrates directly into the Kazoo platform. 2600hz can offer telecom taxation services for all ITSP, MVNO and VoIP providers.
2600hz will soon release a SureTax application on its Kazoo platform so that telecom providers can better manage their business. This app rates and calculates taxes using SureTax’s taxation engine, helping customers determine what tax bureaus they must remit taxes to. The system is completely automated and allows VoIP, landline and cellular services to be bundled and taxed properly together.
“We are excited to partner with SureTax, making telecom tax easy for our customers,” said 2600hz CEO Darren Schreiber. “SureTax helps us with our core initiative, enabling smaller telecoms grow while taking the work out of day-to-day telecommunications logistics and operations.”
SureTax Telecom is a robust, real-time, accurate tax calculation solution designed specifically for the telecommunications industry. SureTax Telecom easily adapts to evolving products and services, and can be customized to meet jurisdiction or industry-specific nuances. SureTax Telecom contains over 600 taxability items, plus VAT coverage from international calls, offers extensive reporting capabilities and easily accommodates remittance systems and compliance service provider needs.
“We look forward to working with 2600hz and the Kazoo community,” adds Mike Sanders, SureTax Chief Product Architect. “SureTax Telecom makes telecom compliance easy, so you can focus on value added operations. We share the same vision. That’s why we think this is such a great fit.”
Read the Press Release: http://www.prweb.com/releases/telecom/tax/prweb12001662.htm
2600hz Speaks at Kamailio World
2600hz Announces KazooCon! Purchase Tickets and Register to Speak Today
We’re proud to announce that we will be hosting our second annual conference, KazooCon on October 6th – 7th in San Francisco, CA. Early-Bird tickets are available and can be purchased here!
Inspired by Kazoo’s open-source platform and led by our awesome team, KazooCon is focused on revolutionizing the telecom industry. KazooCon is a unique blend of telecom presentations, mindblowing demos, and in-depth discussions that will push the boundaries of telecom. We enable all members of the telecom community to engage in hands-on experiences focused around distributed communication networks. Attendees will learn about the latest Kazoo news and project updates, participate in technical sessions, and network with other attendees throughout the conference.
We are also proud to announce a Call for Speakers for KazooCon. We are looking for presenters that can discuss the technologies, strategies, and success stories that can shape communications. Do you have a vision for the future of Telecom? Perhaps an idea that would boggle minds in the industry. We would love to hear from you, apply to speak here.
That’s not all, we will also hosting a Kazoo training directly following KazooCon from October 8-10. This three-day training will teach you about Kazoo and all of the third-party components that power the platform. You will deep-dive into Kazoo APIs, and learn how to set up a cluster, GUI, WhApps, FreeSWITCH, BigCouch and much more. Purchase both an Early-Bird KazooCon and Kazoo Training ticket and save money! Register Here!
In the coming weeks, 2600hz will launch it’s 2014 KazooCon website and announce speakers. To see a recap of last year’s inaugural KazooCon, please visit http://kazoocon.com. Those interested in sponsoring, exhibiting, or launching their product or service at KazooCon should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kazoo v3.11 Release Notes