A MVNO story in France

A MVNO story in France

Once upon the time there was a project

Some bankers and VCs may remember that I met them in 2008 with a business plan under my arm with the prospect to create a European full MVNO  with a strong French base. (To understand what a full MVNO is, see my previous article). The timing of such a request was certainly not ideal, at the beginning of the financial crisis: to try to get funding then for over ten million euro was probably not very skilful.

Reasons for refusal

The refusal of such funding was undoubtedly justified since the project was based on the establishment of a full MVNO. In France the full MVNO concept was strongly defended by the Competition Authority in a famous report published in 2008 and relayed by ARCEP, the telecoms regulator. However there was no obligation on the part of the three French mobile operators to implement such a concept.

Financers were right

And financers were right not to fund my project because it took more than 3 years (by mid-2011) before the first full MVNO opened in France. My project could not have waited so long. But it is a matter of fact that today there is no MVNO of French origin who actually has an international presence, while in the UK there are at least three major MVNO with a global presence, allowing therefore economies of scale.

The cards are reshuffled

Until now the MVNO model has allowed niche players to develop a rather low cost but quite similar offer to the ones of their host mobile operators. The introduction of 4G services changes the rules and the prospects of service offerings (see my previous article): The MVNO model will enable marketing professionals and customer relations experts to develop real added value offers and build long-term relationship with their customers.

A New Chance

The changes allowed by the introduction of 4G will be major for MVNO players in Europe: current players will have to reinvent themselves and new entrants will be able to offer true added value. This is the opportunity for some players to contend in the global race, why not for French players too?

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