AllirajahSubaskaran: What Is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator?

AllirajahSubaskaran is the founder and chairman of Lyca Group, a company created to deliver meaningful connections for its global customers. AllirajahSubashkaran launched the group’s first company, Lyca Mobile, with the aim of challenging the norm while providing customers with the highest standard of service, maintaining a highly agile and value-driven approach to business.
Lycamobile MVNOThis article will look at mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) and their potential to deliver affordable mobile and SIM deals, as well as unlimited social media data, cheap international calls and strong mobile coverage, all while enabling users to support causes they care about.

An MVNO is a mobile provider that does not own its own network. The term is one that few people outside of the mobile phone industry are familiar with. Nevertheless, in the United Kingdom, there are numerous MVNOs, many of which are household names. Indeed, many people are MVNO customers without even realising it.

A Mobile Virtual Network Operator, or ‘virtual network’ as they are sometimes called, offers mobile services without owning or operating their own network. MVNOs like Lyca Mobile do not have their own network, with customers instead connecting to their services via a mobile network operator.

MVNOs lease wireless capacity, in essence, purchasing minutes and data from third-party mobile network operators at wholesale prices. The MVNO then resells these minutes and this data to customers at a reduced rate under their own brand name. The incentive for mobile network operators to sell minutes to MVNOs is that it enables them to generate a profit by selling extra capacity that would otherwise go unused.

There are four mobile network operators in the United Kingdom, namely EE, Vodaphone, O2 and Three. Each of these mobile network operators not only offer their own mobile services but also serve as a host network for two or more MVNOs.

MVNOs benefit from the same coverage as their parent network without incurring expensive overheads, allowing them to pass these savings to their customers. This enables them to undercut their parent networks and offer cheap and reliable mobile deals.

Each of the United Kingdom’s mobile network operators owns a certain amount of ‘spectrum’, a word used to describe the radio frequencies used to transmit mobile phone signals. Utilising bands of the spectrum they have paid to access, operators transmit 3G, 4G and 5G signals around the country using a network of masts.

The process of purchasing bands of the spectrum and installing masts is both expensive and time consuming. That is why MVNOs bypass this whole process, leasing wholesale services from one of the big network operators instead.

MVNOs deliver the same service as mobile network operators, with no discernible distinction between them from the consumer’s perspective in terms of connecting to the network, getting online and making phone calls. The main differences between different mobile providers only really becomes apparent when you begin looking beyond the basics of getting online.

MVNOs provide a variety of different advantages over mobile network operators. First, they are able to offer more affordable mobile deals, since the MVNO business model incurs far less operational costs than running a mobile network. MVNOs pass these savings on to their customers, offering attractive data deals and some of the most affordable handset deals on the market today.

Rather than offering handsets, some MVNOs concentrate on offering competitive SIM-only deals, providing customers who already own a handset with value and enabling them to pick up a more affordable cheap calls and data package. Meanwhile, other MVNOs offer endless social media data on their plans as standard, including unlimited streaming from platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube.

MVNOs provide essentially the same quality of coverage as the host network operator. Lyca Mobile is an MVNO that specialises in low-cost international calls, keeping customers connected no matter where they are in the world.

Another key benefit of MVNOs is multi-network SIMs, enabling users to roam across multiple networks – minimising the amount of time they spend without a signal. Some MVNOs enable customers to support a worthy cause, working with socially responsible organisations or environmental groups – making customers feel good about their ethical choices while using their mobile phone.

About Lyca Mobile

Lyca Mobile is the world’s largest MVNO, operating across five continents in 23 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and numerous European countries. Lyca Mobile is the market leader in the international prepaid mobile calls market, serving more than 16 million users globally, with a new customer joining the company approximately every two seconds.

Specialising in affordable international calls, Lyca Mobile runs on the O2 network in the United Kingdom, providing pay-as-you-go handsets, affordable international calls, data top-ups and more.

In February 2022, Lyca Mobile was recognised with What Mobile’s ‘Best MVNO’ award. With a 4.6 star rating on TrustPilot, the company was also the recipient of the ‘Most Successful MVNO’ award at MVNOsWorld Congress in 2020.