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July 18, 2022

North American IoT MVNOs innovate to stay in the game

Internet of Things (IoT) Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) expand the reach of enterprises looking to connect IoT devices on a global basis, primarily via cellular technologies. They can expand mobile or fixed operators’ footprints as a partner or sell directly to OEMs and enterprises that need widespread easy-to-use connectivity. They can also offer seamless connectivity in regions where a single carrier cannot provide service.

IoT MVNOs in North America have had to overcome an initial reliance on connectivity-led portfolios as they now court global enterprises while competing with mobile operators focused on IoT as a growth area. Those MVNOs that survive and thrive have revamped offerings to stay relevant, drawing customers with application enablement, vertical solutions, management platforms, and professional and managed services.

MVNOs have enlarged portfolios

Aside from connectivity services, these MVNOs have enlarged portfolios to stay relevant, compete effectively, and grow revenue opportunities. They have added vertical focus areas with end-to-end solutions that may include hardware, software, professional services, and applications. For MVNOs, the pandemic has been a mixed blessing as solutions for remote monitoring and connected healthcare have expanded, and the global climate crisis has intensified the need for sustainability solutions such as smart agriculture and energy usage monitoring. However, uncertain economic times has put a damper on budgets for some new deployments.

The following North American headquartered MVNOs have updated their product portfolios over the last year to align with these environmental and economic issues.

  • KORE Wireless is the largest and one of the only remaining pure-play IoT MVNOs in the US, selling connectivity to about 3,600 enterprises, and supporting 15.3 million connections. Q1 2022 revenue was up 25% YoY to $68.9 million. KORE provides global IoT connectivity via the networks of 24 cellular and satellite partners in 190 countries. Its MVNO model with dedicated infrastructure, a connectivity and device management platform, and flexible global price plans is a compelling option for enterprises looking for a single-source provider. It has refreshed its portfolio with strategy and readiness consulting, application management, data-as-a-service, reporting and analytics, asset monitoring, security management, and endpoint lifecycle management. In 2018, Kore acquired ASPIDER-NGI, a provider of ‘as-a service’ infrastructure which provisions connectivity services across geographies. KORE went public in October 2021. In 2022 it doubled down on connected healthcare and life sciences with the acquisitions of Business Mobility Partners and SIMON IoT.
  • Aeris has evolved from a connectivity provider to a platform provider and automotive specialist. It aggregates connectivity from 600 operators in 190 countries, while offering platforms and vertical solutions. It is based in the US but is strong in India and other emerging markets, facilitating use cases such as e-rental rickshaws, IoT finance solutions, and fuel monitoring. It serves multiple verticals, but began to focus on automotive in 2018, when Mitsubishi selected it for its connectivity programs. In 2020 it announced a JV with Volkswagen to provide connected solutions for vehicles in North America. It also launched Asset Assurance Platform, an asset protection and repossession platform for auto finance companies; API One, an interface to auto OEMs’ connected vehicle platforms; and Smart Fleet Platform, for connected telematics. Recent partnerships include an alliance with AWS for secure Cloud Connect, allowing IoT devices to send data securely without a VPN, and with VisionTrack to boost AI, video telematics, and connected fleet data capabilities. Aeris provides connections for 15 million devices.
  • ORBCOMM connects businesses to their assets for increased visibility and operational efficiency. Its vertical solutions and global footprint are unique, especially in geographies with limited cellular coverage and verticals such as maritime, where satellite is a required access method. While its origins are as a satellite network provider, it offers asset monitoring and control solutions, satellite and cellular connectivity, hardware, and vertical applications. ORBCOMM has a diverse customer base including OEMs, enterprises, and channel partners spanning transportation, supply chain, warehousing and inventory, heavy equipment, maritime, natural resources, and government. It also offers a satellite AIS data service, used to track vessels, and assist in navigation and safety. ORBCOMM made 12 acquisitions in seven years and has been in the process of optimizing assets to improve margins. In September 2021 ORBCOMM was acquired by investment firm GI Partners for $1.1 billion.
  • Sierra Wireless’ recurring revenues from managed services and end-to-end solutions, along with its edge to cloud solution, have helped to expand its once hardware-focused portfolio of cellular communications equipment (modules, modems, routers, and gateways). Sierra’s IoT customers now benefit from pre-integrated hardware, software, airtime, analytics (via Google), and billing from ‘device to cloud’ from a single source. In 2020, it acquired Australian IoT solutions provider M2M Group, to expand business in the Asia-Pacific region. The company has built up LPWAN and 5G capabilities, leveraging networks of operators such as T-Mobile. It offers use case-based managed solutions for asset, cargo, satellite and fleet tracking, remote monitoring, and cellular alarm communicators. Q1 2022 revenue was $173.0 million, up 60.1% YoY. Connectivity, software, and services revenue was $34.9 million, while IoT Solutions reached $133.7 million.

These examples show the diversity of approaches necessary to draw enterprise customers that need global IoT solutions in difficult economic times. global economies.