IoT MVNOs to Surpass 220 million Connections by 2026

IoT Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) are evolving their business models
09 Nov 2022

The Internet of Things (IoT) MVNO market is comprised of a broad range of companies, from disruptive startups to established players, with firms of varying sizes and geographic scopes. Global technology intelligence firm ABI Research predicts that growth in the IoT MVNO market will see participants’ total revenues exceed US$2.5 billion annually by 2026, representing a five-year CAGR of 18.5% since 2021.

“Connectivity providers, the bedrock of the IoT ecosystem, continue to evolve as more connected things come online, more startups launch, and more companies are acquired. Trends include the development of cloud-native core networks, Connectivity Management Platforms (CMPs) with remote OTA (Over-The-Air) provisioning ability; and the bridging of the once-siloed management platform market through technological innovation, e.g., IoT SAFE by the GSMA. Therein providing a single point of onboarding for device provisioning and the Subscriber Identity Module’s (SIM) provisioning, regardless of SIM form factor,” explains Jamie Moss, IoT Networks and Services Research Director at ABI Research.

MVNOs, long reliant on connectivity and connectivity management for raking in the lion’s share of their revenues, are increasingly diversifying their product portfolios. Both traditional and disruptive IoT MVNOs have adopted this strategy. Even a conventional IoT MVNO like Kore Wireless is not static. It has evolved and introduced many services, including device management, managed services, and application management toolsets, especially in end markets where it has developed practical vertical expertise.

New entrants are disrupting the IoT MVNO ecosystem by challenging the business strategy of traditional players. “Traditionally, IoT MVNOs relied upon wholesale licensing agreements with carriers for multi-national connectivity to build their business model. Disruptors go one step further, partnering with carriers to sell them a managed service to enable operation beyond the carriers’ home market, transforming those carriers into international IoT service providers. There are other disruptive elements too. Some focus on private networks for IoT deployments, while others have dialed in on pricing innovation,” Moss says.

The IoT MVNO ecosystem has and will continue to grow strongly and will reach a global total of 220 million connections provisioned worldwide by 2026. Nonetheless, some IoT MVNOs have developed more quickly than others. “1nce is a quintessential challenger, a prime example of a disruptive IoT MVNO. 1nce was the first to introduce the IoT flat rate - 500MB for 10 Euros for 10 years - and it is more than just marketing noise. It has produced results for the company, with 1nce having already exceeded 10 million IoT connections since being founded in 2017,” Moss points out.

The technology landscape around IoT MVNOs continues to evolve, with the GSMA’s ongoing standardization of eSIM and IoT SAFE prime examples of recent connectivity and connectivity management developments. “It’s not all plain sailing for eSIM and IoT SAFE, however, as MVNOs continue to highlight the inability to integrate eSIM with NB-IoT, and with IoT SAFE adoption still being nascent,” Moss cautions. “These technology headwinds challenge the narrative of IoT MVNOs that deployments are straightforward for their enterprise customers. Simplifying the delivery of global connectivity at a predictable price point remains the primary concern for IoT MVNOs, and continues to be the nexus of all innovation,” Moss concludes.

These findings are from ABI Research’s IoT MVNOs: Supplier Strategies and Offerings in an Evolving Software and Services Landscape application analysis report. This report is part of the company’s IoT Networks & Services research service, which includes research, data, and analyst insights. Based on extensive primary interviews,  Application Analysis reports present an in-depth analysis of key market trends and factors for a specific technology.

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