The emergence of convergence and new IMS technologies will shape and reshape the strategies of industry participants across the mobile and fixed-line industries. Due to the flexibility of the technology and shifting trends on customer behavior, one type of market player in particular, the Virtual Network Operator or VNO, is developing as an interesting business model. As a result of many shifting market influences, the presence of these VNOs will lead to new battles for control of the mobile customer.
“The balance is shifting away from the mobile network being the focus of the business plan to a model where mobile networks are just one element of a broader media distribution strategy, which is likely to span across multiple networks – mobile, internet and video.”
Major brand-name VNO’s will look less like mobile operators and more like an extension of their overall brand distribution; providing their content in a flexible, personalized manner, wherever the customer is and whenever they want. This means that the most efficient network for delivering content may not be available at the exact time that the customer wants it. The ability to scale or manipulate content to adapt to whichever network must be used for this immediate customer demand requires full adoption of QoS standards as well as uniform mapping of those QoS standards across wireless and fixed networks. Further, VNO’s must be positioned to have their content readily accessible in formats personalized to the customer’s preferences. Third-party applications through IMS servers will provide the adaptation services per session.
The dynamic nature of delivering customized content across multiple networks is what sets VNOs apart from current-generation MVNOs. Most mobile service content today is independent from on-line content – even closely related on-line content. Since the customer’s subscription is with the mobile carrier, the delivery of content to their mobile is limited or restricted by the content the mobile provider makes available.
Virtual Network Operators are the most recent step in the evolution of the wholesale element in the wireless industry. The progression of this class of operator in the mobile space has evolved over the years once network coverage became national and national brand names have entered the space. Some elementary data content has also been made available in the latest offerings.
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