The life of a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) can be a precarious existence. Most MVNOs do business in mature and saturated markets against aggressive competition from traditional mobile network operators (MNOs) and fellow MVNOs. Carving out a niche in these markets often means cutting out costs and competing on price, but this strategy can leave MVNOs particularly vulnerable to service quality issues.
Building a quality 3G/4G network is an expensive proposition. Fortunately, virtualization has brought the cost structure down considerably, allowing more companies to enter the mobile voice/data services market. Last year, there were nearly 1,000 MVNOs operating globally according to a GSMA Intelligence report. Some of these MVNOs come from the telecommunications space (e.g., device manufacturers) while others do not (e.g., Red Bull Mobile); most have limited experience building and maintaining a core mobile network.
Modulo Communications Systems, a Dialogic partner, is in the business of helping MVNOs build, install and manage the core components of their 3G/4G mobile networks. The Israel-based company offers a complete set of core network products including media and signaling gateways, subscriber databases and media servers. Many of Modulo’s products are software-based solutions that can be deployed on standard IT servers and managed in a virtual machine environment to reduce an MVNO’s network costs.
One of the key network elements in a 2G/3G wireless network is the Home Location Register (HLR), which manages the location and authentication services for an MVNO’s subscribers. [In a 4G/LTE network, this role is defined as the Home Subscriber Server (HSS).] Modulo’s HLR/HSS product is tightly coupled with Dialogic’s SS7 signaling components to provide the necessary interworking, performance and reliability to serve up to 100,000 subscribers or more.
With Modulo’s solution, MVNOs can host their subscribers in their own network, starting out small and scaling easily as they grow. The HLR/HSS solution can support subscribers from legacy (GSM, CDMA) networks, 3G networks and newer SIP-based networks, which allows MVNOs to play in more markets and reach more subscribers. And because it uses Dialogic’s signaling technology, MVNOs can be assured they’re getting the same high-quality technology found in the world’s leading service provider networks.
Virtualized network elements are clearly the right path for MVNOs as they look to build and expand their core networks. The ability to leverage commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware not only reduces cost considerably but also opens the door to better performance as x86-based servers typically double their performance capabilities every three years. And if your goal is to save your customers money, where better to start that savings than right at home?