June 24

Marco Li Vigni

Creating a Profitable, Connected Ecosystem through IoT Connectivity for MNOs in APAC

This image shows a global map with an overlay that depicts IoT connectivity.

Finding profitability in IoT is incredibly challenging for mobile network operators (MNOs) worldwide for several key reasons. Connectivity prices are being driven down, because of increasing competition and pressure from customers who are also looking to reduce their costs.

This is coupled with limited revenue opportunities as MNOs usually operate only in their domestic market. To further complicate the challenge, MNOs struggle to reduce the cost of serving the IoT market because of expensive licenses or fees for their connectivity management platform (CMP) or investment and maintenance costs for legacy platforms, including network infrastructure. Significant operational costs due to a lack of process automation also add to a financial burden in pursuing a profitable IoT connectivity business. 

This creates a difficult push-and-pull for mobile network operators because the opportunity to capitalise on IoT is significant—particularly in APAC. We recently posted on the market in APAC, and the wave of digital transformation is set to take place in just a few short years, especially with the advancement of AI, which requires access to more and more information that IoT can help provide. 

The Challenge for MNOs

The challenges that MNOs face cannot be easily overcome, and solutions on the market can intensify complexities and skyrocket costs. 

The Rising Cost of Service

Connectivity management systems are expensive and inefficient. They are complicated and have a separate connectivity management system, core network, and business support system (BSS). 

MNOs can either decide to develop those capabilities themselves or source them from vendors. In the first case, the investment is significant. And because this is typically not a core activity for MNOs, they struggle to maintain and keep up-to-date homegrown platforms, resulting in increasing costs and half-baked solutions.

Acquiring and integrating those systems from the market is also a significant challenge: the market is quite fragmented with many vendors, each with its own geographical footprint and its own limitations. Those platforms also do not come cheap, with significant setup costs and high recurring fees.  

Worse, in both cases, most of the daily operational activities to serve customers are not automated and require manual intervention, which adds significantly to the overall cost. This problem is becoming increasingly relevant as customers and use cases become more sophisticated, requiring additional configurations and, in some cases, customisations.

Limited Footprint

Most MNOs have a very limited footprint and typically operate only within their specific region. Creating a global network (either physical or virtual, based on relationships with other MNOs) is incredibly expensive and time-consuming.

This is why, in most cases, MNOs, to serve their customers outside of own country, tend to offer roaming connectivity. Still, growing regulatory restrictions and the need for low-latency connectivity in large-target markets such as automotive and broadband use cases (like IP cameras, for instance) make roaming a poor (and in many cases costly) option. This means that it’s complicated and extremely costly to build up a truly global connectivity product to serve their customers outside of the domestic market.

Competing with Leaner IoT MVNOs

With very little capital resource demand, specialisation on IoT market, and (in some cases) laser-focused market segmentation, IoT MVNOs tend to be leaner and, therefore can offer services that can go as low as €1 a year (for LPWA use cases or limited bandwidth use cases). 

Those IoT MVNOs tend to also rely on global roaming, with global agreements negotiated with wholesale departments within MNOs, which are managed separately (and sometimes in competition) with IoT departments in the same MNO. This creates a somehow paradoxical situation: MNOs themselves put IoT MVNOs on the same competing ground (roaming), but IoT MVNOs have a more suited cost structure to serve the market. MNOs need thus to find a different way to compete, offering more value and/or adjusting their cost structure to be more competitive

A Streamlined Approach to IoT Success for MNOs

With the growing and large opportunity in APAC coming from digital transformation, MNOs should still pursue and find a way to be successful in IoT. This can be achieved by partnering with floLIVE.

floLIVE is not only a world-class technology vendor, but it also acts as a business partner and business enabler for MNOs. 

Creating Additional Revenue Streams

First, floLIVE can immediately provide MNOs with additional revenue streams, allowing them to capture opportunities coming from other markets.

floLIVE has created a global network, the first of its kind, which hosts a robust library of IMSIs. When an MNO integrates floLIVE’s connectivity management platform (CMP), it gains immediate access to global enterprise customers seeking connectivity services within that MNO’s coverage area.

For example, if a smart metering company wants to expand from Indonesia to Singapore, the smart metering company could select the Singaporean MNO’s network, and suddenly, that MNO will get new revenue without any operational overhead or effort. This pertains not only to our customers but the customers of our customers for a significant trickle down effect.

In this way, floLIVE can offer an MNO’s IMSI worldwide through localised services, supplementing roaming agreements in places where they don’t have roaming agreements, such as China, India, Singapore, Indonesia, Turkey, and more. Roaming connectivity is not a permanent solution as enterprise globalisation continues, roaming regulations grow, and the need for high-performance, low-latency connectivity cannot be met through roaming.  

Expanding Capabilities for MNOs

Secondly, floLIVE expands MNOs’ capabilities by providing out-of-the-box, solid global connectivity products that MNOs can immediately offer to their customers. 

When an MNO is integrated with floLIVE, they can provide their connectivity to other mobile operators or MVNOs while maintaining full control of their connectivity assets, with the ability to monitor and limit usage, complying with local security, privacy, or other regulations. 

Mobile operators are increasingly interested in new ways for other MNOs to consume their network resources directly and generate new revenues away from roaming, which is a poor fit for IoT. Roaming agreements are hardly the most cost-effective or reliable approach. They are downright impossible in certain regions where compliance mandates are strict about data moving out of the home country.

Many MNOs would like to remain as independent as possible, so a solution where they can host a dedicated IMSI range on their own core network infrastructure is perfect. This can become a revenue generator for your business, offering your network as a direct resource to provide local connectivity on a global scale.

Tapping into eSIM

floLIVE can provide further access to unexplored or challenging markets for MNOs. One example is the wide opportunity coming from consumer eSIMs for travelers and the growing demand for eSIMs in smartphones and tablets, especially considering the large data volumes that these devices consume. 

Leveraging eSIM can be difficult and create friction when trying to integrate disparate Remote SIM Provisioning (RSP) platforms, which can be costly and cause a lag in time to market. Through floLIVE’s CMP, we have integrated not only the M2M eSIM RSP platform but also the consumer RSP platform. This approach allows MNOs to simplify their operations and benefit from a single contract with a single vendor.

Additionally, floLIVE offers a real-time rating and billing engine, with the capability to provide post-paid, pre-paid, and pool plans, which is well suited for broadband use cases. This is a unique capability, as most IoT platform vendors have based their technology on massive IoT use cases, with no real-time capabilities (or, at best, just near real-time).

A second example is addressing the so-called long tail of the market – small and medium enterprises (SME), which represents a challenge for MNOs as the cost to serve does not justify the outcome. floLIVE offers an advanced portal, which allows zero or almost zero-touch so SMEs can have access to all features and functionalities including service support (which is provided 24/7/365 by floLIVE) in a full self-service mode.

Optimised Cost Structure for MNOs

Finally, floLIVE can help MNOs adjust and optimise their cost structure and reduce the cost of serving their IoT customers. Thanks to floLIVE’s technology, architecture, and SaaS model, MNOs can be easily integrated and onboarded in a matter of weeks, significantly reducing time to market and related cost and investment, when most other IoT platform vendors require months or even years to do the same. 

Additionally, floLIVE’s business model is designed as a pay-as-you-grow model, which allows the MNOs to be competitive and agile, consistently responding to growing business opportunities.

floLIVE has developed, owns, and operates the entire IoT stack, from core network to rating and billing engine, to SIM management, and to connectivity management platform (CMP). Not only does this provide our MNO partners with end-to-end capabilities, but it also delivers significant advantages that we can, in turn, offer to our MNO partners. First, floLIVE can reduce the time to market and the cost of bringing new features, as we do not have to negotiate or leverage external vendors. Secondly, we can scale our capabilities faster and in a more cost-efficient way, and so we can always provide our partner with the lowest cost possible. 

Last but not least, with regard to helping optimising MNOs’ costs, our solutions allow MNOs to have full control over management, billing, and usage, with advanced automation and self-service capabilities. For the same reason, customers can troubleshoot and solve most issues independently, relieving MNOs from most first-level support. This is not only a cost-efficiency benefit, but it also creates a unique value proposition for the MNO to offer customers real-time access and control to their connected devices.

Come See floLIVE at MWC Shanghai

The world of opportunities coming from digital acceleration is accessible for MNOs through a key partnership with floLIVE to increase revenue and offer connectivity anywhere in the world. Come meet with us at MWC Shanghai June 26-28. Stop by our Booth #A107, Hall 2. You can also book time to meet with us 1:1. 

This graphic allows the reader to click a button and schedule a time with floLIVE during MWC Shanghai.

June 24

Marco Li Vigni


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