Project Sheet "Mobile Virtual Network Enabler"

Thomas Bez

Beratung in Informationstechnologie, Telekommunikation und Unternehmensorganisation


Traditional business models in the mobile network market are those of Mobile Network Operators and Service Providers. Under the emerging players with new business models are Branded Resellers, Mobile Virtual Network Operators and Mobile Virtual Network Enablers.

The Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) offers mobile services under its own brand, has full ownership of the customer, control of the services and tariff schemes, receives termination fees for incoming calls, but does not own a radio access network. Instead, the MVNO sources wholesale radio access network transmission capacity from a Mobile Network Operator (MNO). Mobile Virtual Network Enablers (MVNE) take an intermediary role and can provide a shared core network and application platforms, CRM and billing capabilities, logistics and other services as managed services to MVNOs.

In 2005, Siemens started to investigate into the opportunity to become an MVNE. I was hired to the programme in autumn 2005 as the project leader for operations.


In this project I was responsible for:

To ensure operability of the entire MVNE solution and to maintain the target operations cost level, I was involved essentially in a couple of other activities:


The operations concept incorporates all design and implementation decisions regarding operations of the MVNE solution. It consists of a collection of documents describing

  • Roadmap
  • Sourcing
  • Setup of Service Centers
  • Facilities (Datacenter) Planning
  • Business Continuity und Disaster Recovery
  • Security
  • Workplace Planning
  • Interface and SLA/OLA Definition
  • Process Map
  • Organisation and Staffing
  • Management Systems, OSS and IT
  • Data Communications Network (DCN)
  • Test Plan
  • Business Support (Billing, CRM, Logistics)
  • Lawful Interception
  • Special Purpose Processes (e.g. MNP)
  • Service Level Management
  • Customer (MVNO) Integration Management
  • Interconnection Management
  • Capacity Management
  • Change Management
  • Reporting, Claim and Escalation Management


The MVNE programme was to a large extent in fact a service integration programme. While the MVNE core network was based on the Siemens Mobile Networks product line, many other components and services came from third-party suppliers. This was fixed in a series of make-or-buy decisions and product/partner selection procedures. This does also apply to the domain of network operations. The majority of components and services was sourced from external or already established Siemens-internal providers.

Business support (Billing and CRM) was based on partner solutions which were provided in a very innovative way as managed services, i.e. at usage-based cost.

Process Map

For the definition of the processes I used a combination of eTOM and ITIL methodologies which worked well and made the best from both worlds available to the project.

Nine major operations domains with a total of 53 processes have been identified for the MVNE project:
1. Core Network and Service Platform (9 processes)
2. Radio Network (4 processes)
3. Fulfillment and Billing (8 processes)
4. Interconnections (6 processes)
5. Data Communications Network (6 processes)
6. Security (5 processes)
7. Lawful Interception (5 processes)
8. Operations Support (3 processes)
9. Central and Cross Functions (7 processes)

Site Concept

The network site selection depends on a number of factors where the most important ones are:

In the business continuity plan I defined a phased rollout plan which took the risks, their business impact and the available cost budget into account. Risks which would have required a multiple site concept at considerably higher Capex and Opex where planned for a later phase in the rollout schedule.

Lawful Interception and Mobile Number Portability

It is no secret that Lawful Interception (LI) causes high efforts, does not contribute any value to the business but is indispensable due to legal obligations. It was a new lesson for me (and seems to be remarkable here) that Lawful Interception in an MVNO/MVNE setup may consume up a two-digit percentage of all operations costs and thus may be one of the major cost drivers.

The LI setup in an MVNO/MVNE model is tricky because the MVNO is (or should be) "owner" of the customer but only the MNO is in a position to provide intercepted traffic to the authorities and to administer interception measures.

Mobile Number Portability (MNP) is another indispensible process (at least porting out subscribers) causing unproportional efforts. LI and MNP together may cause 50% of the headaches of an operations manager.


Nokia Siemens Networks now successfully markets MVNO enabling with its product lines and as part of the Hosting service line in a slightly different business model.

In addition to the remarks above on processes, ITIL use, site selection and Lawful Interception, I want to stress following personal conclusions from my work in this project:

1. Each part of a complex service or solution is worth asking the question "make or buy", in particular when the own capabilities in a project are limited. In this case it is important to have the expertise and the manpower to manage the service integration.

2. There are immense possibilities of integrating managed services from external contractors, even in areas where this is not yet very common to the market. It is important to find partners who are open to think about alternative business models for their product or service offerings and who are able to take some risk when developing and marketing a new business model.

Enterprises with limited own delivery resources may benefit from the approaches described here.


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