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  • Writer's pictureElisabeth Nebster

Exploring the Role of IoT MVNOs in Driving Innovation in the Connected World

In this Article:


"MVNOs have a real opportunity to improve lives and societies by opening up the benefits of mobile services."

Susan Welsh de Grimaldo

Director, Service Provider Strategies

As the demand for reliable and secure wireless connectivity for IoT devices continues to surge, the role of IoT MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) becomes increasingly crucial. These specialized network operators are dedicated to providing wireless connectivity to IoT devices, distinguishing them from regular MVNOs that primarily cater to mobile phone services.

IoT MVNOs offer specialized services, including low-cost data plans, network coverage optimized for IoT, and connectivity management platforms tailored for IoT devices. In this article, we aim to comprehensively explore the specifications of IoT MVNOs, their core benefits, and future perspectives.

The notion of IoT MVNO and its significant difference from regular MVNO

A Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) is a company that offers mobile services to its customers without owning its wireless network infrastructure. Instead, an MVNO leases network capacity from a traditional Mobile Network Operator (MNO) and resells it to customers.

  • MVNOs typically have lower overhead costs than MNOs, allowing them to offer more affordable services.

  • MVNOs do not require a government-issued radio frequency license to operate, which makes go-to-market easier.

MVNOs purchase wholesale traffic from MNOs and then package and sell it to their customers. For example, it may buy network capacity from a major MNO like AT&T and then sell it to subscribers at a lower price.

According to ABI Research's projections, the IoT MVNO market is expected to grow, resulting in the total revenues of participants surpassing US$2.5 billion annually by 2026. This signifies an 18.5% compound annual growth rate since 2021, spanning over five years.

Consequently, the relationship between IoT and MVNO has quite potential. The function of an IoT MVNO is to establish a connection between providers of vertical-specific applications, technology suppliers, the host MNO, and the respective vertical. MVNOs are uniquely placed to satisfy the requirements and desires of the customer and business-oriented IoT platforms and services.

Unlike MNOs, MVNOs may tailor their services and build novel B2B, B2C, and IoT applications. It provides MVNOs additional revenue streams and allows them to establish themselves in an overly crowded industry.

What are the core benefits and challenges of IoT MVNO?

Customized services for different verticals

For instance, the requirements of a healthcare IoT system may differ vastly from those of a logistics IoT system. By providing tailored services and pricing models, IoT MVNOs can address the unique needs of different industries and help businesses optimize their IoT solutions.

Improved coverage

It is estimated that by 2026, MVNOs will manage around 670 million cellular IoT connections. These operators can leverage multiple MNO networks to provide comprehensive coverage across geographies, reducing network downtime and enhancing the service.

Easier IoT device management

IoT MVNOs also simplify the management of IoT devices. These operators streamline the overall management process by offering a single point of contact for device management, billing, and support, reducing complexities and improving efficiency.

IoT MVNO: Top challenges

Use cases for IoT MVNO

Precision agriculture

IoT sensors can monitor soil conditions, weather patterns, and crop growth, enabling farmers to decide when to plant, irrigate, and harvest their crops. For example, John Deere's Connected Support system uses sensors to collect data on machine performance, soil conditions, and crop yield, providing farmers with real-time insights into their operations.

Industrial IoT

Verizon has partnered with Siemens to provide an IoT solution for industrial automation called MindSphere. The solution uses IoT sensors and analytics to optimize industrial processes and increase efficiency while reducing costs and downtime.

Energy management

Cisco has partnered with Schneider Electric to provide an IoT solution for energy management called EcoStruxure. The solution uses IoT sensors and analytics to monitor energy consumption and provide real-time data on usage and costs, enabling businesses to optimize their energy usage and reduce costs.

What is the future of IoT MVNOs?


With the rollout of 5G networks, IoT MVNOs will provide faster and more reliable connectivity to support a wide range of new use cases and applications. 5G networks offer higher capacity and lower latency, enabling faster data transfer and real-time analysis.

Edge computing

Edge computing is a technology that enables data processing to be done closer to the source, reducing latency and improving efficiency. IoT MVNOs will leverage edge computing to provide real-time data processing and analysis, enabling faster decision-making and automation. Moving data processing to the network's edge can reduce the data sent to the cloud, resulting in lower capacity and costs.


AI is a technology that enables machines to learn and decide based on data. IoT MVNOs can use AI to analyze IoT data and provide insights and predictions to improve business operations and reduce costs. For example, AI can optimize predictive maintenance, enabling businesses to identify potential equipment failures before they occur and reducing downtime and maintenance costs.


Security is a significant concern in the IoT space, and IoT MVNOs should focus on providing secure connectivity solutions to their customers. This will require developing new technologies and implementing best practices to protect IoT devices and data. IoT MVNOs need to ensure that their networks and devices are secure from cyber threats, ensuring that data is not compromised.


IoT MVNOs are becoming increasingly important in providing specialized wireless connectivity to IoT devices. The ability to offer customized services, improved coverage, and simplified management of IoT devices has many benefits for different industries.

Although there are challenges in network integration and cost, the increasing adoption of IoT and the growing demand for customized solutions make IoT MVNOs a crucial part of the IoT ecosystem.

As 5G networks are rolled out, and new trends emerge, the future of IoT MVNOs looks promising, with significant growth potential and technological advancements.


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