My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: @TheOURja MVNO Licenses – How Telecom Providers benefit and Why MVNO are a source of Product Innovation

Sunday, July 19, 2015

@TheOURja MVNO Licenses – How Telecom Providers benefit and Why MVNO are a source of Product Innovation

MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) are coming to Jamaica!

The OUR (Office of Utilities Regulations) has issued twelve (12) new mobile telecommunications licenses for MVNO to enter Jamaica as reported in the article “OUR auctioning up to 12 mobile licences, targeting virtual operators”, published  Sunday July 5, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner.

There is also a document on the OUR's website entitled “Notice - Amended - PUBLIC MOBILE TELECOMMUNICATION SERVICES (MVNO) - July 12, 2015” that is facsimile of the Newspaper ad that details the requirements needed to become an MVNO in Jamaica.

It asks the potential bidders to put forward Proposals to specify coverage area, launch dates for their service as well as their total planned expenditure. Apparently, a previous RFP (Request for Proposals) back in Tuesday June 12th 2007 had not been taken up.

MVNO RFP Offer – Second Time may be a charm for VoIP Providers

So the OUR, as per Section 10 of the Telecommunications Act of 2014, has decided to offer it again.

The aim is obvious; increase competition and options for customer to quote the OUR's CORPORATE BUSINESS PLAN & BUDGET: “The introduction of MVNOs is seen as a natural progression in the facilitation of competition in the telecommunications sector. Even that MVNOs tend to focus on niche markets, it is believed that value­added niche services are better handled by these operators”.

This is especially needed now that MNP (Mobile Number Portability) and LNP (Landline Number Portability) means customer can switch Telecom Providers since Monday June 22nd 2015 as they have a mind as noted in my blog article entitled “MNP and LNP delayed to Monday June 22nd 2015 - Technical Problem is Customer Knowledge, Misdmatched Demographics and no Unlocked Quad-Band smartphones”. 

With many Jamaicans possessing Quad-band smartphones, more choices in terms of Telecom Provider, setting up an MVNO is fairly easy for those who qualify for a Telecom
License, as there is no Network Infrastructure to build!

Best of all, Telecom Provider Stand to benefit, especially if the MVNO’s are VoIP Providers who Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Philip Paulwell had stated should be licensed as explained in my blog article entitled “Minister Paulwell says VoIP Providers must Register to Terminate - Why WhatsApp may no longer be Free as IXP by January 2015, MNP by May 2015”.

But will it work this time around?

OUR’s MVNO Licenses – Telecom Providers to gain from Renting Access to competitors

MVNO's are basically Networks that rent access to another Telecom Provider's Network Infrastructure. They use their cellular bandwidth and the Telecom Operator's Network Features to provide their service to their own branded feature phones as well as smartphones.

The most recent one, Google Fi, has many excited, as they could potentially introduce their service to Jamaica. Google Fi that makes it possible to use both Cellular and Wi-Fi Signals to make phone calls as reported in my blog article entitled “Google's Project Fi Network – How @Google Fi's @Sprint and @TMobile MVNO will force @ATT and @Verizon to join their VoLTE Forces”.

Currently here in Jamaica we have the following registered Telecom Providers:

1.      Digicel
2.      LIME 
3.      Traille Caribbean (never heard of 'em)

Traille Caribbean got their domestic mobile service provider license in May 2013 and LIME will soon become FLOW, once they've got their house in order as reported in my Geezam blog article entitled “LIME Jamaica Goes with the FLOW thanks to Caribbean-wide Survey”.

They might be interested in MVNO's as they can potentially make money by renting access to their Telecom Network to MVNO's. The MVNO License does not stipulate that they have to build out a Network.

MVNO are a source of Product Innovation – Back to the Future for MVNO’s

According to a research paper on Telecommunications competition published by the Dean of University of Technology's business school Dr Paul Golding, a few actually existed or provided that service by 2007:

1.      Gotel Communications
2.      MegaPhone
3.      Peoples Telecom
4.      World Phone

Back in 2006, the OUR had issued licenses for MVNO's to CashPlus and their service MegaFone, who’s product was in high demand in back in February 2007 as reported in the article “Valentine's Day sparks rush for cell phones”, published Thursday, February 15, 2007 by VAUGHN DAVIS, The Jamaica Observer.

Although their customer base, estimated back in 2007 to be some 200,000, was small, their presence and competition, especially the Carlos Hill owned MegaPhone helped to pollinate the idea of Free International calling as described in my MICO Wars blog entitled “How to make Free International Calls to Landlines and Mobiles Anywhere in the World”.

This idea of free International calling exists with us today in the form of International Calling Plans on both Digicel and LIME as explained in my Geezam blog article entitled “How to set up an International Calling Plan for Digicel or LIME Prepaid and Postpaid”.

So MVNO’s are not just about choice or getting VoIP Provider’s to be licensed. It also has the potential to shake thing up a bit in terms of Products and Services being offered to Jamaicans.

This potentially means Network Porting, now in effect since Monday July 22nd 2015, a more common place affair!

OUR Timeline for Regulations needed – Google Fi to make Network Neutral smartphone common

Strangely, the OUR seems to be putting the Horse before the carriage yet again. There are currently no regulations for MVNO's within the Telecommunications Act of 2014. A timeline is yet to be formulated for the implementation of MVNO over the period 2015 to 2018, specifically:

1.      Licensing
2.      MVNO Network models
3.      Regulations
4.      Technical Considerations

However, the OUR seems to be in experimentation, as having little prior experience with their formation, they need to see them in action, to quote the OUR's CORPORATE BUSINESS PLAN & BUDGET: “This is the formulation of a system to outline how Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) will be regulated. This will address the rights and responsibilities of these virtual operators and their interactions with facilities­based operators”.

I have no problem with this, especially as MVNO's such as Google Fi would totally change the Telecoms Game in Jamaica. They would potentially introduce Jamaicans to the idea of a Network Neutral smartphone i.e. a cellphone that works on all Networks.

So, MVNO's anyone?!

Here’s the link:

No comments: