Mobile network operators (MNOs) add the largest value to Internet of Things value chain by providing the last mile wireless connectivity for Voice, Data and Machine-to-Machine(M2M) communications. This can be done in several ways – either by having a dedicated M2M gateway (or APN/Internet Gateways) or by creating an MVNE (Mobile Virtual Network Enabler) architecture that allows quick on-boarding (provisioning) with special SIMs (subscriber identity module) and software.
Several functions as stated below can be re-used by the following verticals: Connected Vehicle; Smart Grid; eHealth; and Connected Home. These are some common M2M service layer functions were necessary for their respective vertical segment and to then converge on those common functions as the components for a “Common M2M Service Layer” capability, which are provided by MNOs as a service for M2M subscribers. Machine-to-Machine communication is an essential part of the IoT concept, due to the fact that IoT endpoints can be viewed as machines that are able to communicate with remote machines.
Provisioning: On board new devices by creating new subscription in the common M2M service layer and network layer; activate/deactivate/suspend/resume network and service subscriptions.
Device Management: Manage all aspects of the devices including configuration, firmware upgrades, application lifecycle management, device lock and wipe. (via OMA DM or TR-069)
Security: generate relevant key material for secure communications; Authenticate devices before they can register and modify resources. Prevent unauthorized entities from sending IP packets to the devices. Provide a secure connection to the device
Application and Device Registrations: Application and devices will be able to register with the service layer entity for various services. Registration will involve authentication or verification of credentials and creation or allocation of resources within the server and the database.
Resource Management: Applications and devices will be able to create, update, and delete resource objects containing various attributes in the service layer. Entities will be able to discover resources.
Content push/pull Services: Provide API for applications to perform unicast and multicast data push to specified devices within the specified time window. Push may be result of a notification that is triggered as a result of modification of a resource. Provide API for applications to pull data from one or more devices within the specified time window or specified periodicity or other policies that have been established.
API Management: Manage API usage, such as authentication and authorization of calls to APIs provided. (RESTful APIs)
Store and Forward Messaging: Applications may request messages to be sent to one or more devices that may not be registered with the network at that time. In this case the communications management entity shall store and aggregate the messages and forward them to the devices at a later time when the devices wake up.
Protocol Translation: Translate protocols between application and device as needed. For example, applications may use HTTP while devices may use Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP), Zigbee Smart Energy 2.0 protocol or 6lowPAN.
Subscribe/Notification: Application and devices should be able to subscribe to receive notifications upon certain events or when certain resources are updated. Events may be specified as rules on certain resource data.
Policy Framework: Framework to establish and incorporate in the session orchestration, data aggregation and storage, the network provider and application provider policies. Examples include incorporating a location tag or time stamp on all data, policy restricting sessions only to certain hours of the day.
Location and Geo Fencing: Provide device and network based location and location related services such as creating a geo-fence or identifying a group of devices within a region or adding a location tag to the device data.
Device Triggering: Provide the capability to trigger the device to register with the network and an application through a secondary means such as an SMS. Provide information about the status of the device in the network.
Data Processing and Storage: Provide temporary and permanent storage for data collected from devices. Process queries on data collected.Consumption
MVNO, MVNE & MVNA
MVNO: A MVNO is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator, i.e. it manages and distributes a range of mobile phone services under its trademark(s) while using network services supplied by a Third Party Mobile operator(MNO). A MVNO has a long-term contractual relationship with at least one physical mobile host operator, to deliver mobile telecom services, aka GoogleFi with T-Mobile & Sprint. However, the degree of service outsourcing by an MVNO to its host operator varies with the economic model under which it operates.The introduction of MVNOs in the market is a natural progression towards having a free market and contributing to the efficient use of telecom infrastructure.
MVNE: An MVNE is a Mobile Virtual Network Enabler. MVNEs have their own mobile network agreement with a right to resell its wholesale airtime to smaller MVNOs. MNOs partner with Mobile Virtual Network Enabler who provides services like billing, provisioning, operations, support etc to customer facing companies MVNO’s. Once MVNE is integrated with any operator, MVNO’s can be on boarded with minimal effort.
MVNA: An MVNA is a Mobile Virtual Network Aggregator. Sometimes, many small MVNO’s connect to the MNO via an MVNA that can aggregate lots of small MVNO’s and using the collective might, be able to connect to the operator as a single MVNO. MVNA’s will typically not have direct subscribers but only other smaller MVNO’s that connect to it. MVNA’s have their own OSS/BSS to be able to provide accurate billing information to the MVNO’s.
MVNE – a gateway to IoT?
Most MVNOs will lack the experience of dealing with handset manufacturers and establishing upstream and downstream systems for service creation, billing, customer care and datacentres, hence the creation of the MVNE. So a special case of the MVNO model is the MVNE. An MVNE provides the technical architecture and may enter into a wholesale agreement with a host MNO, to enable mobile service provision. However, the MVNE does not directly provide services to mobile users. Instead, it acts as an enabler for any number of MVNOs; an MNO can also become an MVNE in order for it to directly support MVNO Resellers and Service Operators. MVNEs specialize in planning, implementation and management of mobile services on behalf of an MVNO. They provide SIM provisioning and configuration, customer billing, customer relationship management and value-added service platforms. In effect, they enable an MVNO to outsource both the initial integration with the host operator and the ongoing business and technical operations management.
Marketing functions are handled by the MVNO themselves: brand, distribution channels, customer base. The set-up, operation and evolution of the MVNO service is handled by the MVNE. An MVNE does not have a relationship with end-user customers.All MVNE subscribers are treated like pre-paid subscribers charged and monitor their usage in real time. MVNE’s have their own IN (Intelligent Network) network and maintains subscriber account balances & tariff information. MNO network elements connect to MVNE SCP for credit or charge request. MVNE provisions subscribers to HLR via switch control. Real time usage queries for subscriber are available through ESP interface which is integrated with Unified Subscriber databases (USD).
MVNEs form the backbone of an MVNO’s business of wireless Network Services providing help in broad areas of product development and marketing. These outsourced services include: Data Services, Content Management, Customer Relationship Management, Profile Management, Service Provisioning, Work Fulfilment, Billing, Invoice and Settlement, Revenue and Service Continuity Assurance etc. An MVNE offers infrastructure and related services ranging from network element provisioning, administration and operations to OSS/BSS support. MVNEs often provide the “middle-ground” between MVNOs that do not want to have any control over network elements and those that want complete control. MVNE’s provide the middle-ground in the sense that they can provide options to MVNOs for what they bring in-house versus what they rely on the host carrier. For example, a MVNE can provide HLR, SMSC, MMSC, as well as more advanced network elements such as GGSN, OSS/BSS, and other systems.
There are three main categories of MVNEs, based on MVNO solutions:
- Aggregator MVNEs: these offer consulting and integration services and have bundled all of the back-office network components through alliances. They promote their ability to quickly provide order-to-cash solutions to MVNOs.
- Aggregator MVNEs with their own platforms: this includes aggregators which have developed one or more back-office solutions internally, and have complemented them with partnerships to provide end-to-end enablement services.
- Specialized Enablers: these offer only parts of the back-office network such as messaging platforms, data platforms and billing solutions. They are not solely focused on the MVNO market. This new breed high-end, strong brand MVNO is transforming the dynamics of the MVNE market. Besides leveraging their own existing assets, they choose to own more of their platforms, particularly their logistics, distribution and customer care systems. They still work with MVNEs, but they tend to opt for specialized ones with best-of-breed solutions and a strong reputation catering to B2B segments that address fleet management, shipping (UPS), medical monitoring, etc.
- The benefit that the MVNE can provide to the MVNO is deferral of capital expenditures and/or cost reductions while allowing the MVNO to focus on the customer relationships rather than operations.
- MVNO is afforded the opportunity to customize its offerings arguably further than an MVNO that is totally reliant on the host mobile network operator.
- The MVNO feels that they are dependent on an external parties to add value.
- In case of disagreement in the future, in-sourcing of operations by the MVNO become expensive.
IoT segment players adding value: