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North American MVNO Outlook

Mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) are poised to capture more market share from U.S. wireless service providers in coming months, but the long-term success of many MVNOs is far from assured, says Heavy Reading. The number of MVNOs in the U.S. will expand rapidly in the next 12 months. As of early 2005, there were 22 operators registered to offer MVNO service in the U.S. That number is likely to grow significantly as retailers such as Wal-Mart launch MVNO offerings that tie their established brands to wireless service. MVNO success will hinge on the ability to market effectively to niche audiences. North American MVNOs are specifically targeting consumers with poor credit, users of international long distance, and young people. Key niche markets -- covering demographics previously considered undesirable by wireless carriers due to their low credit characteristics and exotic usage profiles -- are going to attract a lot of attention this year. MVNOs' principal weakness is that they lack scale as competitors when compared with large wireless carriers. As the MVNO field gets more crowded, the first-mover advantage with specific demographics is likely to dissipate.

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