MVNOs World Congress 2016 – GigSky on The Road
This is the second in a series of GigSky “reports from the road” as we, the GigSky team, travel to various conferences across the globe. We’ll bring you the latest industry news, insight on what we see, how it might impact you, and future developments to keep an eye on.
MVNOs World Congress 2016
This report is from our VP of Business Development, Rich Neville, who recently traveled to Amsterdam, April 11-14, for the MVNOs World Congress.
Get cash. Many shops, restaurants and bars do not take credit cards. On the plus side, Amsterdam is probably the easiest foreign city to visit if you don’t speak the local language. Everyone speaks fluent English and you hear as much English in restaurants and bars as Dutch.
Back on the Road
MVNOs World Congress is the largest gathering for the MVNO community and a chance to get together, hear insights from our colleagues and meet with host networks and vendors. The conference was well attended with over 600 participants from 70+ countries. I was asked to participate in two panels – one on eSIM and one on the future of data-only MVNOs. I was also asked to give a talk on GigSky’s insights from our eSIM integration with Apple.
Wi-Fi Calling in Action!
Though totally unrelated to the conference, I tried out AT&T’s Wi-Fi calling product for international roaming during the trip. AT&T launched the product on the iPhone in March. To call it Wi-Fi calling is a bit of a misnomer. It’s really a voice/text over data; irrespective of whether that data is mobile (3G/4G) or Wi-Fi.
Clear and Stable Calls AND $270 In Savings!
The setup is pretty simple – just link your various iDevices to iCloud and activate the service on your AT&T iPhone. Presto! You’re getting calls and texts to your iPhone, iPad and MacBook all at the same time and you can answer/respond from any connected device. I fired up the service at home and put it to the test when I landed in Amsterdam. From my iPad, I bought a GigSky plan for the Netherlands (3 GB for $50). I then turned on the hotspot feature and linked my iPhone. I did a couple of tests with the guys in the office and received calls and texts with no problem – even texts from non-Apple devices. During the week, I made two multi-hour conference calls to US numbers and was only charged at US rates– with no international roaming charges. At $1.50/min (AT&T’s voice rate in Netherlands), I saved $270. The calls were totally clear and stable. Not one dropped call during the 3 hours on the phone. I don’t know anything about the technology behind this, but it was worth whatever AT&T paid to install it. More info here.
MVNOs Going Global: Strong Branding or a Unique Offer Required
Only a few MVNOs have the brand power or uniqueness to be successful in more than one country. One of the panel sessions at the conference included senior management from Virgin Mobile, Lyca and FreedomPop. Popular questions from the MVNO crowd were around making the jump from local operation to a regional or global player. Virgin was clearly able to leverage the massive success of Richard Branson’s other Virgin properties and the name recognition that goes along with owning a major airline. Lyca and FreedomPop both focused on their unique selling points; Lyca’s focus on diaspora/ex-pat communities and FreedomPop with their free service.
One interesting point was that the panel thought going regional or global will actually be easier for MVNOs in the future, as customers become more accustomed to purchasing services exclusively online. Without the need to have storefronts, MVNOs greatly reduce the investment needed to launch an operation in a new country.
Next stop: AEEC Airline Event, Atlanta, April 24-28!