March 13, 2018

4 Min Read
Q&A with Hakan Demir, Founder and CEO at Fenercell

With the number of connected devices expected to reach 20.8 billion by 2020 (Gartner) and the rise of new technologies such as IoT, e-SIM and Blockchain, MVNOs are faced with an always changing market, yet disruptive, but with many opportunities for growth and co-operation. To give you an update on these topics, the MVNOs Series team spoke with Hakan Demir, Founder and CEO at Fenercell.

In this interview Hakan shares his views on the current state of the MVNOs market, the key trends and challenges shaping the industry, where he sees new opportunities for MVNOs and much more.

Where you will be talking about ‘MVNO 3.0 – Creating SmartVNO’. Do you think that operators will ever be able to regain their position in the market as key innovators?

Telcos have evolved to build networks and upgrade them with new generations of technology in a struggle to provide faster/more reliable connectivity in order to justify the revenues they collect from their subscribers. In the good old days of high margins and growing revenues they have always ignored cooperation in their walled gardens. I observe that many of the operators can’t yet sense that, (yes, their walled gardens are still there but) the industry is shaping up to be a much different environment leaving their castles as islands in a bigger ecosystem. For the ones who recognize and try to reshape their value creation strategies, life is not easy, as they are too much hard coded in network building and can’t transform into innovation and service building.

What are the key trends and changes shaping the MVNOs market currently?

It has been long that consumer interest has shifted from better (and better) connectivity to services; they take connectivity as granted. OTT players coming from different spaces and much later into the picture are more admired, and have created more value than the operators. 5G is not promising the operators to miracly turn things up back to operators favor, as long as they turn their heads to a more differentiated/personalized services approach. On the contrary, (especially for the operators with weaker financial muscles and little subscriber park), 5G investments might push them deeper in the network struggles and prevent/adapt to see where the market is actually going. To make the matter worse, some established telcos will prefer (or find themselves in the position) to champion the wholesale route, squeeze the margins and make life more difficult for the others.

How can Telco operators take advantage of greater flexibility enabled by e-SIM?

The IoT and e-SIM are coming in at the right time to present the operators with opportunities like the good old days. The best case potential for operators that can be presented by the IoT and e-SIM can be headlined like this: “Not only people, but things are out there to be subscribers, in the order of billions and you can reach them without expensive logistics/dealers. That is, an untapped big market to be acquired with less costs (less SAC)”.  But this will not do any good to them if operators keep going with their inherent instincts. IoT and e-SIM are here to stay and they will be exploited by other players (as in the case of OTTs) through innovative business plans, if the operators are late again.

Operators need to widen their co-operation space including their rivals, get used to sharing, transform their organizations, form well-functioning clusters etc. in order to maneuver through the complexities and high demands of the IoT business, as well as exploiting the advantages e-SIM promises.

Where do you see new business opportunities for mobile operators?

Another deep impact coming from within the neighboring industry is the new mindset forming around the blockchain. If you peel down all the fuss about cryptocurrencies, the essence is the whole new concept of blockchain, that, I believe has the potential to reshape how we run the entire business.

Operators, I believe, still have the upper hand, as they possess (maybe) the best form of subscriber ownership, deep knowledge as to who they are, what they do and where they are. Transportation (cars specifically), banking, energy, security is among the first to approach industries, with a proper army of service/solution provisioning, of course. What I have told up to now for operators are valid, to a large extend, for both MNOs and MVNOs; MVNOs to assume roles proportionate to their size and capacities.

What has impacted your business the most?

We, as Fenercell, having been gravitated where the people are (rather than where networks are) with our strong/trusted brand power, see IoT and e-SIM as opportunities to broaden our business. As these new technologies will make us less bounded to the operator and more freedom to innovate


Hakan Demir is a regular speaker at the MVNOs Series events and have previously joined us for both MVNOs World Congress and MVNOs North America. Find out where he’ll be speaking next.

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