Virtual Operators, what they are and why they can save you money

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Martí Micolau
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Virtual operators: characteristics and diffusion

Given the expansion of user needs in the calculation of telephony, there are certainly not a few innovations that have invaded this thriving sector: novelties that have seen the birth of new business solutions. And this explains why the telephony market has seen the so-called MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators), commonly known as virtual operators, enter by force. These innovative players had practically immediate success, due to the particularly competitive offers. But who are the virtual operators, how do they operate and when did they actually enter these markets?

What are virtual operators?

Virtual operators, as the name implies, are companies specialized in the supply of telephony services born in 2004. But what distinguishes MVNOs from the other most famous operators on the market? The fact that these particular operators provide these services without having their own network infrastructure, but relying on the networks of the companies that have instead decided to invest in the aforementioned infrastructures, thus renting them. For example, Kena is a low cost Mobile Virtual Network Operator that presents various rechargeable mobile phone offers at really affordable prices, relying on TIM network infrastructures and therefore offering a truly reliable service.

All about virtual operators: what are the different categories?

There are basically three types of MVNO operators: Full MVNOs, ESPs and SPs. The former manage any aspect of the service but without owning the network infrastructure, for rent. The latter, on the other hand, do not offer SIM cards unlike the former, but offer VAS services, ie those that make it possible to market the product. Then we have the SP, a real wholesaler who therefore does not have any network-related services. But there are also other categories of virtual operators: the ATRs, which act as resellers but without their own brand, the MVNEs, which manage only the SIMs and finally the MVNAs, which instead only act as network aggregators.

EU roaming: how do MVNOs behave?

The European Union has approved a law relating to Roaming: for a few months, to be exact from June 15, 2017, mobile browsing is no longer subject to extra roaming costs, when used outside the SIM activation country. . But does the same rule apply to MVNOs? As these are small businesses, the aforementioned law on roaming has provided for one-year exemptions for all virtual operators with corporate losses over 3%. Anyway, most of the virtual operators have already joined.

How to choose the right operator

The choice of a virtual operator should always be made taking into account two parameters, the convenience of the offer and the support structure. As for the first aspect, it is clear that operators, in order to attract new customers and steal them from large national and international carriers, must give up part of their profits and set up packages that offer much more than traditional operators. This is possible thanks to the great savings that virtual operators obtain from not having to bear the cost of the infrastructure, which is simply rented. Lower costs and renouncing part of the profits allow virtual operators to generally offer more, in terms of voice traffic and minutes, at a much lower cost than other large carriers, which for this reason do not always look favorably on flourishing. of new operators "without a network".

This brings us to the other aspect mentioned that ofsupport operator. Virtual operators are not all the same and this is mainly because the structure they decide to rely on is different. The offers of the various virtual operators also and above all depend on the costs and services that the main operator makes available to them and these can be very different also based on the volume of business that the operator can put on the scale. Another aspect to consider is that both from the point of view of data connections and voice services, the quality offered by virtual operators, in some cases could be lower than that offered by traditional operators, as the former have a lower priority on repeaters with respect to the customers of the actual operator of reference.

When choosing a virtual operator then it is important to check the support carrier, verifying that the latter has sufficient coverage of the areas that interest us. Only in this way can we be sure that the services offered by the mobile operator maintain the same degree of efficiency and quality as the main operator.

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