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The global MVNO landscape, 2012–14

Mobile network operators (MNOs) host 943 Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) and 255 MNO sub-brands, as of May 2014. This represents a total of almost 1,200 mobile service providers worldwide hosted by MNOs, up from 1,036 in 2012, according to GSMA Intelligence.

Our research shows that MVNOs remain most prevalent in mature markets where penetration (based on connections) has surpassed 100%. Europe is home to more than two thirds of global MVNOs (579), followed by the Americas (128) and Asia (79). By contrast, the MVNO sector remains in its infancy in African markets with just eight MVNOs across the region.

GSMA Intelligence has identified eight separate categories of MVNOs, namely discount, telecom, media/entertainment, migrant, retail, business, roaming and M2M. As in 2012, ‘discount’ and ‘telecom’ MVNOs are the most prominent types of operation, accounting for 46% of the global MVNO market, while 19% are owned by companies that come from adjacent industries (e.g. retailers, banks, TV or media organisations), leaving 34% of the market to specialised providers focused on segments such as business, migrant, M2M and roamers.

Mobile internet subscribers and penetration in China, 2013

Global MVNO split by region, 2014
Source: GSMA Intelligence

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