The MVNO roll-up begins now!

Lawrence Latham

(Blog) San Antonio, Texas, USA. August 26, 2014 — The Overview: Within the next week or so, there will be at least one sizable transaction in the MVNO space, with the amounts dwarfing the recent Axeda acquisition by PTC, writes Lawrence Latham. The goal of these transactions is to turn one or more of the MVNOs into an end-to-end M2M solution provider on a global scale.

What does global scale mean? Right now, very few companies have global scale. AT&T and Vodafone have over 17 million connections each. By comparison the biggest mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) have a couple of million connections. Achieving global scale will require staffing for sales and support in region with local language, which is a very expensive proposition. The financial taps are opening to make it happen.

Several years ago, the term MVNO meant a company was in the business of selling connectivity and providing SIM cards. Over the past few years, MVNOs have migrated from simply providing connectivity to offering complete, end-to-end M2M solutions. Generally speaking, MVNOs currently have better hands-on implementation experience with M2M customers than most mobile network operators (MNOs). All of the MVNOs we have recently talked to are now looking to scale in a large way to become global M2M solution providers serving the enterprise and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) community.  The upcoming transactions are another step in realising that vision.

From a financial community perspective, the recent activity plus these imminent transactions shows how attractive the M2M/IoT space currently is. We recently visited with Michael Lenoce, the managing director for Technology & Communications Investment Banking at Centerboard Securities about Mergers, Acquisitions, and Private Equity investments.  Here are some of his takeaways:


“M&A activity in the M2M communications sector has accelerated significantly over the past six months, and interest by venture capital and private equity firms has intensified, where there are a number who are actively pursuing investments in the space instead of waiting for sell-side processes – the  prevailing view among investors is that M2M will be the next big opportunity for growth and want to invest while it’s still in the early innings.”  

“Valuations over the past year have increased significantly, transitioning from 9 to 11x EBITDA multiples to mid to high teens or increasingly revenue multiples that are similar to pure SaaS valuations.”

“Over the past few months there has been a lot of activity by traditional MVNOs who are either seeking to raise capital or pursue an outright sale – investors are viewing these companies as great platforms to add additional applications/solutions targeting specific industry verticals and cross sell into their existing MVNO customer base.”


These transactions highlight the value that the MVNOs have cultivated with customers and the financial community is positively recognising it.  Is the global scale strategy going to be a winner?





1)     Global Enterprises will look for solutions with integrated network choices rather than cobbling together global coverage by working directly with a variety of regional network operators.

2)     Global Enterprises won’t entrust their global M2M business, their business’s mission-critical ‘central nervous system’, to a single network provider.

3)     MVNOs with complete solutions will be more agile, responsive, and in tune to their enterprise customer’s needs.



1)     What kind of scale are we talking about?  If you combined any two of the top MVNOs, they still would not have the installed connection base of any one of the top 10 global MNOs (ie China Mobile, AT&T, Vodafone, etc).  Will Global 2000 businesses look at even the biggest MVNOs as ‘big enough’?  MNOs are huge multibillion dollar enterprises.   AT&T for example had revenues of US$128.752 billion in 2013.  Large companies like to do business with companies their own size for financial, legal, and ego reasons.

2)     For MVNOs to get global reach, it will require global staffing for sales and support, which is a very expensive proposition.

3)     MNOs such as AT&T and Vodafone already offer global coverage and global SIMs to enterprises and OEMs.  Global solutions already exist.

4)     By definition MNOs own and control their own networks. By definition MVNOs do not.  MVNOs will always have to react to MNOs.


The author of this blog, Lawrence Latham, is senior strategist at James Brehm & Associates. He specialises in technology commercialisation and business development as a recognised innovator and thought leader in the Internet of Things (IoT) space.



Inpixon and Schauenburg Systems team up to sell real-time location technologies to mining companies in South Africa

Posted on: September 26, 2022

Palo Alto, United States – Inpixon, the Indoor Intelligence company, announced a collaboration agreement with Schauenburg Systems, an original-equipment manufacturer of mine safety systems and equipment, to sell Inpixon’s real-time location technologies to mining companies in South Africa. Under the agreement the parties will aim to achieve sales of hundreds of thousands of nanoLOC chips and other core

Read more

How will OEMs manufacture the smart factories of the future?

Posted on: September 23, 2022

“By 2025, there will be approximately 27 billion connected IoT devices. Someone is going to have to manufacture these, and OEMs are gearing up to enable as many functions as possible to be integrated into the devices they build.”REGISTER NOW TO READIoT relies on manufacturing efficiency to get massive volumes of devices out into the

Read more

9 IoT applications that will change everything

Posted on: September 1, 2021

Whether you are a future-minded CEO, tech-driven CEO or IT leader, you’ve come across the term IoT before. It’s often used alongside superlatives regarding how it will revolutionize the way you work, play, and live. But is it just another buzzword, or is it the as-promised technological holy grail? The truth is that Internet of

Read more

Which IoT Platform 2021? IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide

Posted on: August 30, 2021

There are several different parts in a complete IoT solution, all of which must work together to get the result needed, write IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide – Which IoT Platform 2021? authors Robin Duke-Woolley, the CEO and Bill Ingle, a senior analyst, at Beecham Research. Figure 1 shows these parts and, although not all

Read more

CAT-M1 vs NB-IoT – examining the real differences

Posted on: June 21, 2021

As industry players look to provide the next generation of IoT connectivity, two different standards have emerged under release 13 of 3GPP – CAT-M1 and NB-IoT.

Read more

IoT and home automation: What does the future hold?

Posted on: June 10, 2020

Once a dream, home automation using iot is slowly but steadily becoming a part of daily lives around the world. In fact, it is believed that the global market for smart home automation will reach $40 billion by 2020.

Read more

5 challenges still facing the Internet of Things

Posted on: June 3, 2020

The Internet of Things (IoT) has quickly become a huge part of how people live, communicate and do business. All around the world, web-enabled devices are turning our world into a more switched-on place to live.

Read more

What is IoT?

Posted on: July 7, 2019

What is IoT Data as a new oil IoT connectivity What is IoT video So what’s IoT? The phrase ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is officially everywhere. It constantly shows up in my Google news feed, the weekend tech supplements are waxing lyrical about it and the volume of marketing emails I receive advertising ‘smart, connected

Read more
IoT Newsletter

Join the IoT Now online community for FREE, to receive: Exclusive offers for entry to all the IoT events that matter, round the world

Free access to a huge selection of the latest IoT analyst reports and industry whitepapers

The latest IoT news, as it breaks, to your inbox