Writes Valde Ferradaz Chief Executive Officer of MVN-X

Durban, South Africa – The fiercely competitive mobile telecommunications market in South Africa never fails to deliver attention-grabbing headlines, bold strategies and innovative tactics – and for very good reason. It’s a booming, multi-billion rand industry. The MVNO market is showing a massive surge off the back of demand for data and with thanks to the foundations laid by pioneering brands like Mr Price Mobile and me&you Mobile.

The South African MVNO/E sector is robust and dynamic with some of the world’s best brains, technology and infrastructure in the business, but one of the biggest barriers to entry for new mobile service providers is the misconception that they compete with the networks on price. This is not the case, and there’s never been a better time to dispel this myth.

For over a decade, MVN-X has pioneered and led the branded mobile service provider space. Our business currently enables 10 of 13 South African MVNO brands including Standard Bank Mobile, TFG Connect, Pick n Pay Mobile, Boxercom, newly acquired Uconnect and the aforementioned Mr Price Mobile and me&you mobile amongst others.

Despite SA’s MVNO market being relatively small, there are signs that the projected returns can be outstripped, with the potential to achieve a growth rate exceeding 10 percent of the total mobile market over the next five years. The opportunity for brands to convert this into a beneficial exchange with loyal, yet cash-strapped consumers, needs to be fortified by creating an untetherable value proposition.

Due to the nature of their core business, the Network Operators will find it challenging to compete in this space, given that MVNOs already have the reach and relationship with their existing, loyal customers.

Network quality and price parity amongst the South African operators is inevitable within a mature and saturated market. It’s interesting to note that Cell C is shifting its value proposition and we’ll see similar value-driven tactics to that of the mobile service providers coming out of the operator. However, Cell C will not be a traditional MVNO, purely on the basis that they own spectrum and core infrastructure.

A shift in perspective is therefore needed, and for leadership to understand the difference in how an MVNO and a Network Operator reach and reward their customers. The cost of data and margins are getting increasingly narrower and branded mobile service providers have a strategic advantage as established and trusted brands, that can reward their consumers directly by way of connectivity and other digital value-added services, including benefits passed on from loyalty and points programmes.

The customer’s share of wallet is where the fiercest competition exists, and why there is such growth in the digital economy. In addition to recurring data and connectivity costs, monthly consumer income that is channelled into essentials such as groceries, healthcare and clothing provide savvy MVNOs with the opportunity to pass on tangible rewards for spend and loyalty – by way of data and voice – arguably the world’s most valued commodity.

It is widely accepted that MVN-X spearheaded the ‘dawn of the MVNO era’ in South Africa, through strategic network operator partnerships with Cell C in 2014 and more recently MTN via their wholesale network platforms. We are the only network-agnostic MVNE in South Africa with the ability to integrate into the network of your choice and the technology, experience and skill that it takes to ensure success within the MVNO market.

Speak to us if you’re looking to add connectivity into your business eco-system and how this can enrich and digitise your customer engagement – there’s a reason why we are South Africa’s leading enablers of Mobile Virtual Network Operators. Speak to our business development strategists by getting in touch with us here

Valde Ferradaz, Danie Swart and Veron Singh.

For media-related enquiries, contact Louise Hunt.

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