IIoT MVNOS Use Innovation to Stay Competitive and Profitable

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • IIoT MVNOs play an important role in expanding the reach of enterprises looking to connect IoT devices across the world, primarily via the cellular networks of mobile operators.
  • In order to remain competitive, however, they have developed innovative ways to go ‘up the stack’ through enhanced management platforms, a unique vertical focus, or diverse go-to-market strategies.

GlobalData’s latest report on European and Canadian IIoT MVNOs (published in March 2022) focuses on three leading companies in this market: Sierra Wireless, Cubic Telecom, and Transatel (an NTT company headquartered in France).  Each of these service providers not only extends IoT connectivity for enterprises by allying with an assortment of global mobile operators, but has also differentiated itself through enhanced management platforms, a unique vertical focus, or diverse go-to-market strategies.  GlobalData also follows the IIoT MVNO market in the US, focusing on services from Kore Wireless, Aeris, and ORBCOMM.

Transatel, an NTT Company

Transatel has three primary sets of solutions.  It operates as a mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE), which is a technical subcontractor for other MVNOs that use its platform to provision and manage SIMs and provide mobile voice and data services to businesses and consumers.  It is also a MVNO, offering ‘MVNO-in-a-Box’ services such as SMS, MMS, voice, and data via the networks of partners in France and the UK.  It also sells data-centric services directly to enterprises looking for digitalization; vertical targets include connected vehicles, transportation, industry, and connected device solutions (e.g., laptops and tablets sold by enterprises to consumers).  Transatel offers cellular connectivity in 180 destinations, supports 90 MVNOs, and manages more than 3 million SIM cards and eSIM profiles.

In 2021, Transatel launched two new services.  The Connected Workplace solution meets pandemic/post-pandemic needs of employees to work from anywhere and includes fixed wireless as well as mobile cellular solutions.  A new private LTE/5G extension solution enables connected devices to seamlessly switch between private and public cellular networks on a global basis.  It should be noted that Transatel’s parent company, NTT, also provides many other IoT solutions; NTT Data, for example, has 1,000 IoT consultants in its IoT Center of Excellence and generates $170 million a year in global IoT services revenue.  NTT is also an end-to-end systems integrator for IoT solutions.

Sierra Wireless

Sierra Wireless, headquartered in British Columbia, Canada, has been moving up the stack since 2018, when it acquired US MVNO Numerex.  Its recurring revenues from managed services and end-to-end solutions, along with its Octave edge-to-cloud solution, have helped to evolve its once hardware-focused product set that was based on selling cellular communications equipment (modules, modems, routers, and gateways).  Sierra’s IoT customers now benefit from pre-integrated hardware, software, airtime, analytics (via Google), and billing from ‘device to cloud’ from a single source.  In 2020, Sierra acquired Australian IoT solutions provider M2M Group, helping to expand business in the Asia-Pacific region.  The company is also establishing a reputation for building up both LPWAN and 5G capabilities, leveraging networks of established operators.

Sierra Wireless’ 2021 revenue was $473 million, an increase of 5.5% YoY.  Sierra attributes growth to strong demand for its services, realization of previous investments in inventory in a supply-constrained environment, and improved manufacturing flexibility.  In March 2022, Sierra Wireless expanded an agreement with T-Mobile to bolster its global LPWA connectivity offering via its Smart Connectivity service.  Its US customers can now also access T-Mobile’s 5G network.  It also launched a global private access point name (APN) service with simplified staging, accelerating application deployment for customers and providing flexibility and security.

Cubic Telecom

Ireland-based MVNO Cubic Telecom continues to see traction in its primary verticals: the connected car and laptop OEM markets.  This strong vertical focus has worked out well, especially for a small company with only about 200 employees.  Volkswagen AG and Audi were early customers, while laptop OEMs include Panasonic, HP, and Lenovo.  However, to expand its focus, an alliance with CNH Industrial brought it into global smart agriculture deals, while an alliance with Kymeta added satellite connectivity to reach industries such as the military, emergency response, and recreational vehicles.

Cubic is also differentiating with technology; it developed its own multi-IMSI SIM and has been a leader in launching eUICC for SIM profile switching.  Its Microsoft Azure-powered cloud-based connectivity platform gives it flexibility in meeting customers’ needs for security and scalability.  Cubic also developed a data analytics platform to visualize data and present key insights, utilizing Microsoft Azure cloud technology.  In 2022, Cubic Telecom strengthened its partnership with Qualcomm to allow Cubic’s connected software solution to enable the analytics, visibility, and connectivity behind Qualcomm’s Car-to-Cloud solution.

These examples of leading IIoT MVNOs show the diversity of approaches, necessary to draw enterprise customers that need global IoT solutions.  IoT services remain a growing market and have even benefitted from pandemic requirements to remotely monitor operations in manufacturing facilities, healthcare campuses, transportation hubs, and retail establishments.  It is also a pivotal technology underlying digital solutions that focus on sustainability and the pressures of climate change on global economies.

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