A Comprehensive Guide to Mobile Virtual Network Operators

Mobile Virtual Network Operator

A mobile virtual network operator (MvNO) is a telecommunication service provider that does not have its network infrastructure to provide services to customers. Instead, it offers mobile phone services to its customers using the leased infrastructure of an established mobile network operator (MNO). Simply put, these service providers “resell” the services of other mobile network operators.

Understanding the Role of MvNOs:

Unlike conventional network operators, a mobile virtual network operator leases a third-party infrastructure to provide a particular set of services to their customers.

For this, MvNO purchases calling minutes from a leading mobile network operator (MNO), at a wholesale rate. Later, MvNO resells them at comparatively lower prices to their customers. Many UK MvNOs resell services on a variety of networks.

Now that a MvNO has a mobile virtual network that is leased from other network providers, it saves the cost of building and maintenance of the whole infrastructure. Therefore, a MvNO can afford to offer comparatively lower call rates to its customers. Furthermore, their cheaper overhead allows them to spend more on marketing and promotions; thus attracting more customers.

MvNO might lack some of the key features offered by the original mobile network provider. However, they usually compensate by offering special deals and plans for their customers.       

Exclusive features of MvNOs:

Here is how UK MvNOs work to offer services to their customers: 

Leased infrastructure – to be able to offer services to their customers, MvNOs ‘rent’ physical network infrastructure of an established network provider. In addition to leased infrastructure, they also buy data, call minutes, and add-on at wholesale prices.

Branding – a MvNO establishes itself as a brand and targets specific groups of customers for their services.

Offering provision services – most often a mobile virtual network operator has their own exclusive plans, billing system, subscriber management, and customer care team.

Flexible and personalized plans– MvNOs generally offer unique offerings, discounts, and services to cater to the different needs of customers.

The impact of MvNOs on the telecommunication market:

The emergence of MvNOs in the telecommunication landscape in the late 1990s was limited to a few service providers who primarily targeted specific interest groups of customers.

Over time, MvNOs have made their mark in the industry. They have a strong customer base mainly because of the quality of services, competitive prices, exclusive add-ons, and dedicated customer support.

Today, these virtual network providers have a significant position in the telecommunication market. They are driving competition, offering personalized plans at affordable and market-competitive rates and ensuring the quality of services.

Make a smart choice with Xinix.

Here at Xinix, we offer prepaid wireless plans on a subscription basis. All of our plans offer inclusive UK and US minutes, depending on your choice. The minutes include calls made to regular landline numbers and mobile numbers, while exclusive of calls to mobile virtual network operator numbers as well as some national, local, and service numbers. 

At Xinix, we try to include as many UK MvNOs in our plans as we can; as long as the standard call charges remain the same. Additionally, some of the numbers which have been assigned standard charges initially may have their prices increased at any time, meaning we will no longer be covering that in your subscription plan.

Read More:  Constant Growth of the Mobile VoIP Market to Watch Out

Benefits of Mobile virtual network operators:

Affordability – given that a MvNO leases the network infrastructure of an established network provider; it saves their overhead cost. Thus, they can offer subscription plans at lower rates, making it an ideal choice for those with limited budgets.

Flexible plans – though they might miss some of the key features provided by the original network operator, MvNOs still offer flexible plans to customers tailored as per their needs.

Exclusive deals and add-ons – another benefit of MvNOs is that they often offer exclusive deals, discounts, and add-ons for their customers. 

What mobile network operators are classified as MvNOs in the UK?

A mobile virtual network operator does not have the infrastructure to provide services to its customers. A vast majority of UK MvNOs belong to this category of service providers.

Furthermore, most mobile virtual network operators have their billing system, marketing strategies, customer support team, and so on. This is why it is sometimes hard to identify that they are, in fact, MvNO. 

Mobile virtual network operators and their respective network

The majority of UK MvNOs rely on leading network providers; Vodafone, EE, Three, and O2.

Here is the list of UK mobile networks and their respective mobile virtual network operators so you can understand MvNOs and whose underlying infrastructure they are using for their services:   


Brand (MNvO) Host network(s)
1pMobile EE
360Coms Telecom Three
365 Mobile O2, Vodafone
AfriMobile Three
AlwaysOnline Wireless Three
Anywhere Care Ownfone (Formerly Age UK Ownfone) Vodafone
Anywhere Sim O2, Vodafone, EE, Three
Asda Mobile EE
Auracall Travel Talk EE
Axis Telecom EE
BT Mobile EE
BT Onephone (BTOP) EE
C4C Mobile EE
Call & Give EE
Champions Mobile O2
CTExcel EE
Ctrl Mobile Three
CUniq O2
Econet Mobile EE
Ecotalk EE
ETS Mobile EE
Fonome Mobile O2
FreedomPop Three
Gamma Telecom Three
giffgaff O2
Globalgig Three
HP Mobile Connect EE
i3 Mobile EE
iD Mobile Three
JOi Telecom Three
Jump O2, Vodafone, EE, Three
KC Mobile O2
Lebara Mobile Vodafone
Lycamobile O2
Meem Mobile EE
NordTelekom EE
Pebble Mobile Network O2, Vodafone, EE, Three
Plusnet Mobile EE
Rok Mobile Three
RWG Mobile Three
Sky Mobile O2
Superdrug Mobile Three
Talk Home Mobile EE
Talkmobile Vodafone
TalkTalk Mobile O2
TalkXtra Mobile Vodafone
Telecom Plus EE
Telfoni Three
Tesco Mobile O2
The Phone Co-op EE
Toggle Mobile O2
Torica Mobile O2
Truphone O2
Vectone Mobile EE
Virgin Mobile EE
Vivio Vodafone
VOXI Vodafone
White Mobile EE
Zevvle EE



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