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How Healthy Is the MVNO Business?

How Strong Is The MVNO Market?
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I am asked the question (today’s article headline), just how healthy is the MVNO business?

I’m a big believer that you can make statistics say anything but the introduction of new MVNOs, aggregators and support platforms confirms to me that our business is very robust. There are a few MVNOs that are struggling, mostly Boost who has shed over 1.5 million customers since being spun off to DISH, and Tracfone who once dominated the pre-paid space in the US with 22+ million customers but now has roughly 19+ million after being bought by Verizon in November 2021 for $6.9 billion. This also led to a major shake-up in Verizon’s Prepaid Group’s senior management as reported this week by NWIDA (Verizon Prepaid Shakes Up Management Team - NWIDA).

Metro By T-Mobile now holds the crown for being largest prepaid brand.

Other than that, people are still abuzz about The Mint Mobile Affect and their impending acquisition by T-Mobile (along with sister companies Plum and Ultra for $1.37 billion). MobileX made a HUGE splash by securing distribution in over 3700 Walmart stores shortly after they launched, and I personally know of six additional MVNOs that are readying their plans to launch before the end of the third quarter of this year.

At Mobile World Congress that I and 120,000 of my closest friends attended in late February, the conference was dominated not only by the arrival and benefits of A.I. (Artificial Intelligence), but also by the MNVO opportunities that A.I. will bring to all types of new MVNOs and the ecosystems that will be necessary to support them. I now count nine (9) aggregators supporting the big three carriers in the United States and almost as many MVNE’s (enablers).

To me, this points to a very healthy wholesale channel for AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile.

How Are You Different?

As I’ve stated a thousand times, when my phone rings and the person on the other end of the line states that that they want to become an MVNO; I ask, “WHAT IS YOUR DIFFERENTITOR?This is usually answered with “Huh?” 😊 Okay, I continue, why would I leave Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Boost, Consumer Cellular, etc. for you? 90% don’t have a good answer.

I have also said that if their strategy is to be the lowest price, I wish them good luck and quickly end the conversation!

What makes you as an MVNO different? Offering a value proposition that your soon to be competitors do not; competitive pricing, niche offerings, and flexible plans, and attracting consumers who were looking for alternatives to traditional carriers.

Several factors contribute to the health of the MVNO business.

The Top Five in our opinion:

  1. Market Growth: The MVNO market in the United States had been expanding steadily, with more consumers opting for MVNOs due to lower prices and more customizable plans compared to traditional carriers.
  2. Competition: Competition among MVNOs and between MVNOs and traditional carriers remained fierce, driving innovation and improvement in service offerings.
  3. Partnerships: MVNOs often relied on partnerships with larger carriers to access network infrastructure. Strong partnerships and favorable agreements with network operators were crucial for MVNOs to offer reliable service to their customers.
  4. Customer Base: MVNOs were attracting diverse customer segments, including budget-conscious consumers, travelers, and those seeking specialized services such as international calling plans or data-only plans.
  5. Technology and Trends: MVNOs needed to adapt to technological advancements and changing consumer preferences, such as the shift towards 5G connectivity and the increasing demand for data-centric plans.


Regardless of your MVNOs offering, advertising spend, and approach to marketing, if there is not a compelling reason to port into your company, you are doomed to fail, like all of those who tried to compete in the “race to the bottom” with regards to pricing who all use the same exit statement, “due to unforeseen market conditions we are forced to discontinue our operations immediately.” Unforeseen????? I still can’t fathom why potential MNVOs think that they can compete on price against well-funded billion-dollar incumbents, especially when being forewarned by people like myself and others!

And just putting a household brand name on a product is not a guaranteed formular for success. Who remembers ESPN Mobile or Disney Mobile?

Reach out to an expert, do your homework, find and exploit your niche and be in it for the long-term.

Hey, We Now Have a Podcast!

Atrium Unlimited Consulting ( launched The Boon of Wireless Podcast ( in February 2024. The podcast has received very favorable reviews and we have had some terrific guests so far:

And CEOs of Upduo, Prolong, SkyPeak Technologies and Gigs. Eight episodes have aired and three additional have been recorded for future streaming. We try to stream a new episode every Thursday.

If you’d like to be a guest and have a compelling story to tell, we’d love to talk with you. Reach out to us at one of the e-mail links above. And please watch, like and subscribe (it’s free!).

In closing, if you are interested in having a conversation about becoming an MVNO or just want to chat about the business, feel free to reach out.

Until then,

Good Selling!


Jon Horovitz
Jon Horovitz has been in the wireless industry as a senior executive for 33+ years. He headed up sales and operations in leadership roles for McCaw Communications, AT&T Wireless, Nextel, Boost Mobile, and Sprint. He has owned an MVNO as well as assisted in the start-up of many others. In 2022, Jon was named United States Ambassador to MVNO Nation (based in London and supporting 6000+ MVNOS). In 2024 he started The Boon of Wireless Podcast, available on all of the podcast streaming channels. The Boon of Wireless is a podcast about and for the wireless telecom community.

Jon's consulting company, Atrium Unlimited, LLC, advises carriers, MVNOs, investment bankers, and venture capitalists interested in joining the wireless space.

Jon would love to hear from you about any consultative needs you may have.

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