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Tuesday, 27 Feb 2024 | 9 min read

What is an MVNO and should you switch to one?

two people with their faces out of frame each holding a mobile phone with both hands.

If you've been shopping around for mobile plans, you might have heard about MVNOs. Even if you haven't, you'll have noticed there are more choices of mobile providers than ever before. And all but three of them are MVNOs.  

What is an MVNO? 

Short for Mobile Virtual Network Operator, an MVNO is a mobile service provider that doesn't own a mobile network. Instead, they lease a network from one of Australia's three Mobile Network Operators (Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone). 

The growth of MVNOs in Australia

Since MVNOs get mobile data at a wholesale rate, they typically sell mobile plans at a lower cost than Mobile Network Operators. With significant savings on offer, MVNOs are attracting an ever-growing portion of the market. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) 2022-2023 mobile usage report shows MVNOs make up 11% of total mobile services, up from 9% in 2021-2022. And that 11% doesn't include MVNOs owned by Mobile Network Operators, so the actual figure is even higher. 

Is Aussie Broadband an MVNO? 

Yes, Aussie Broadband is an MVNO. The Optus Network powers our 4G and 5G mobile plans. 

How does an MVNO work? 

MVNOs lease access to a mobile network and sell it under their own brand. So, no matter which mobile provider you choose, your service will run on either the Telstra, Optus, or Vodafone network. 

Why are MVNOs cheaper than mobile plans from network operators? 

MVNOs don't have to worry about the cost of building and maintaining their mobile networks. That means they can offer mobile plans cheaper than Mobile Network Operators, who must factor those costs into their pricing. 

You might wonder why Mobile Network Operators want to partner with their competition. Well, it's a mutually beneficial relationship. Mobile Network Operators have shifted their offerings towards providing a more premium service, letting their MVNO partners handle the rest. 

Some Mobile Network Operators even have their own MVNOs, entrenching their desire to offer select services under their parent brand. For Mobile Network Operators, it's more profitable to collect revenue from MVNOs and let them handle the hassle of high-volume, low-margin mobile services. 

MVNO vs Mobile Network Operator: Which is best for your business? 

Mobile connectivity is essential to business. And in a highly connected world, using a personal mobile in your business isn't going to cut it. It's unprofessional and blurs the lines between home and work. 

So, to be a fully connected business, you need a dedicated business mobile plan - but not just any old plan. You need a mobile solution that lets you easily manage multiple SIMs and maintain high visibility and control over your service. Can an MVNO do the job? Or is your business better off sticking with the big three? 

Let's compare MVNOs with Mobile Network Operators on the criteria that matters for businesses. 

Cost 

MVNOs typically offer entry-level plans at a lower price than the cheapest ones available with Mobile Network Operators. Some MVNOs also provide higher data plans at a lower cost per GB. 

So, MVNOs are the more cost-effective choice if you're looking for cheap mobile plans. However, Mobile Network Operators make up for their high price with added value in their service. 

Data  

Mobile Network Operators have limited plans compared to the wide range of data offerings available with MVNOs. If you're only looking at mobile plans from a Mobile Network Operator, you may have to settle (and pay) for a plan with more data than you need.  

Aussie Broadband's mobile plans let you share data across all SIMs on the same profile between plans on the same network (4G or 5G), so no data goes to waste. 

To find out more about the business benefits of data sharing, check out this article.

Self-service apps 

Self-service apps give you visibility over your mobile service, so you can easily manage your mobile plan. At a minimum, your mobile service app should let you view your data usage, add data, change your plan, and request technical support. 

While Mobile Network Operators have traditionally led the charge on self-service apps, MVNOs have all but caught up. So, whatever MVNO you choose, you can expect access to a self-service app that lets you manage your account. 

Aussie Broadband's award-winning MyAussie® app makes managing your mobile service simple. 

And if you have multiple services for your staff on the same profile, you can manage them all through the app. 

Handsets 

There are two kinds of people in this world: People who buy mobile phones and SIM plans together on a contract and people who purchase mobile phones outright and get a SIM-only plan. 

If you're in the first group, you'll likely need to go to a Mobile Network Provider, as these are the only companies offering an extensive range of phones on a contract. 

If you're happy buying handsets outright, you have more choice, as most MVNOs are SIM-only providers. And since you're not limited to the handsets on offer with a contract, the freedom to shop around for the best deal might save you money.   

Technology 

Since they own the networks, Mobile Network Operators have first access to the latest mobile technology, such as eSIMs and the 5G network. Mobile Network Operators didn't initially offer these products to their MVNOs.

So, if you want to be an early adopter of new mobile technologies, you're better off with a Mobile Network Operator. If you're with an MVNO, you'll likely need to wait to access the latest tech. The good news is that MVNOs have caught up (for now), giving you more choices of 5G and eSIM providers.

Network coverage and speeds 

Does switching to an MVNO come with a trade-off in speed and coverage? Not necessarily.  

MVNOs with full network access (like Aussie Broadband!) offer identical mobile services to the network operator. So, if you switch to an MVNO from its Network Operator, your service won't change. 

That said, some MVNOs only buy a portion of a mobile network. So, if network coverage and performance are important to you, do your research when considering MVNOs. MVNOs will state the network coverage and speeds they offer on their plans so you can compare it to what's available on the network. 

No matter what Aussie Broadband mobile plan you choose, you can rest assured you'll get everything the Optus network offers: Ultrafast 5G* with no speed caps or reliable 4G that covers 98.5% of Australia's population. 

*5G rolling out in selected areas. Excludes TAS & NT 

Support 

While self-service apps are great, there are times when you'll need to speak to one of the humans behind your service. 

Part of the allure of Mobile Network Operators is that they typically have better customer support than MVNOs. 

What do we mean by better customer support?  

  • There are no long hold times. It's 2024, we know what "we are experiencing an unusually high call volume" really means.  

  • You won't be passed around to different staff members and have to repeat your issue to each one.  

  • You're speaking to someone who completely understands your issue and how they can help you solve it. And they have the resources at their disposal to fix it for you.   

It's no secret that many MVNOs (and even some network providers) don't provide customer service like that. When you've got a business to run and a mobile issue holding you back, dealing with bad service can be incredibly frustrating. 

Rest assured, all Aussie Broadband mobile plans are backed by the same award-winning, 100% Australian-based customer service team our broadband customers know and love. For business customers, we've got a dedicated business support team.  

Retail stores 

Are physical stores still a factor when deciding on a mobile plan? For some, it is.  

While select MVNOs have a retail presence, the Big Three's store network is unmatched. To that end, the ability to visit a store is still a massive drawcard for Mobile Network Operators. That's especially true for small businesses. The done-for-you service you get at a telco business centre (the business equivalent of retail stores) is a valuable time-saver.  

But in recent years, meetings with trusted business advisors have moved online. That's why we've introduced "Virtual Business Centres", run by our Australian-based Business Success Team. Our virtual business centres offer tailored support to help you make the most of your telco service, delivered online for your convenience.  

Bundling with other telco services 

Mobile plans are far from the only telco service your business needs. There's broadband internet, phone systems, and the hardware that powers it all. Additionally, your telco might also provide other services such as cyber security solutions 

Most MVNOs only provide some of these services, so you'll need multiple telco providers to get everything you need. Using more than one telco does have some advantages. It lets you get the best deal and builds redundancy into your business's network. But it has drawbacks. You'll need to switch between multiple apps for self-service and deal with various invoices each month. Plus, the customer service you receive will be inconsistent.  

Having one telco to rule them all will simplify your business and life. While Mobile Network Operators are a safe choice, they aren't the only full-service option.  

Aussie Broadband is a one-stop shop for all your telco needs. Combine your business mobile plan with an nbn®, phone, and security service and manage them all in one place: our award-winning MyAussie app 

Mobile plans made for business 

Are you thinking about switching mobile providers? 

At Aussie Broadband, we've got a range of business mobile SIM plans starting from $25/month. Get great-value data on a flexible, no-contract mobile plan. Choose from ultrafast 5G with no speed caps or dependable 4G that covers 98.5% of Australia's population. 

All our plans come with award-winning support from our 100% Australian-based customer service team. And you can easily manage your mobile services on the MyAussie® app. 

If you've already got a work phone, we'll transfer your number over for you, keeping mobile downtime to a minimum. 

Check out our Mobile SIM and Data-Only Mobile Broadband Plans via the links below. 

Mobile SIM Plans 

Connect your business with great-value 4G and 5G plans.  

View Plans 

Mobile Broadband 

Power your devices on the go with reliable 4G and 5G data 

View Plans 

To find out more about our mobile solutions, contact our team of business mobile experts. You can call us on 1300 480 905 or, if you prefer, contact us via our website. 

 

T&Cs apply 

Tags:4G5GMobile

Written by

Michael Hayman Headshot

Michael Hayman

Content Writer

Michael is Aussie Broadband's marketing copywriter. Michael has worked as a content marketer since 2016, predominantly in the B2B space. He is passionate about writing educational content that helps small and medium businesses run, grow and...

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