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The 5G hype train is here and there is no slowing it down. 5G will change everything about wireless connecting, from networking, streaming, latency, video calling, gaming and so much more. The IoT pundits are predicting 30 billion connections by 2025 and 5G will impact industries such as transportation, utilities, medical and the list goes on. At the end of 2020, there were already 11.7 billion IoT connections worldwide, for the first time, MORE than smartphones, laptops, and computers combined! (State of the IoT 2020: 12 billion IoT connections - iot-analytics.com)
Last time, I referenced Zangi in their June 16, 2020 article about the opportunities for MVNOs to look outside of their comfort zones (I only say “out of the box” once a year) and start to uncover hidden opportunities to grow their MVNO businesses:
“5G is a unified, more capable air interface. Designed with an extended capacity to enable next-generation user experiences, empower new deployment models, and deliver new services. It’s ready to impact every industry, making safer transportation, better communication, remote healthcare, precision agriculture, digitized logistics — and more — a reality.” (Help Wanted….. Is Your MVNO Ready? - BestMVNO)
WHO’s ON FIRST?
All of the Big Three Carriers are touting the advantages on their own 5G networks. Personally, I get confused on which one “has the largest 5G network” which one states that theirs “is the fastest 5G network” or which one’s 5G network “covers the most population!”
Let’s step back into the early days of MVNOs. Myth had it that while carriers and MVNOs used the same towers, connectivity and later download speeds were slower for MVNOs. MVNOs didn’t have the ability to offer the latest handsets that were on the shelves of corporate stores and exclusive dealers. Then, powerful MVNOs like Boost, Metro PCS and Cricket began building brands that were delivering 9 million to 20 million subscribers and their parents (Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T respectively) had to level the playing field as these prepaid brands started to flex their sales and marketing muscles. Throw in Consumer Cellular and their approximately 4 million customers (who was purchased by GTCR this Spring for $2.3 billion!) and Tracfone who’s 20 million subs just might be acquired by Verizon and the MVNO market is relevant and only going to get stronger.
WHAT’S MY STRATEGY?
I took the liberty of using this MVNO List to see which MVNOs support 5G and which ones do not. Here is just a small sampling from that list.
Obviously things will continue to change with 5G offerings, but the question to ask yourself as an MVNO (or looking to join the MVNO space) is who you want to align your business with. This also is just a sampling of the MVNOs that do and do not offer 5G. You can view the full list by checking out BestMVNO’s MVNO List.
Other factors to consider are the availability of 5G capable handsets from the carrier or wholesale distributor, any increase in wholesale costs once 5G is more readily available and what type of “5G message” will the carriers allow the MVNOs to say.
Finally, only Boost is listed above as being under Host Network DISH they are owned by DISH but they still operate on T-Mobile. As you’ve probably read, DISH and AT&T signed a 10 year, $5 billion wholesale agreement and one would have to assume that a big migration of Boost subscribers will be moving from T-Mobile to AT&T under the DISH umbrella. Dish has stated that it will be building a 5G network from the ground up. It will be interesting to see how they approach the wholesale market in the months to come.
WHERE ARE THE CARRIERS WITH 5G?
Next time I will provide a comprehensive overview of where the three top carriers are with their 5G buildout, based on interviews with industry experts. While the amount of coverage is growing every day, the message to wireless subscribers is still a confusing one; who’s network is better, faster, covers more people? We’ll try to present the facts on where T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon are, what technology that their using and attempt to cut through the clutter.
Until then, don’t forget to stay tuned in to next week’s All Wireless and Prepaid Expo in Las Vegas at Caesar’s Palace if you’re not making the trip (theprepaidexpo.com).
As Always……. Good Selling!