T-Mobile MVNO PTel Mobile, who quietly called it quits back in February early this year, after a decade and a half of business. Then last December, another T-Mobile MVNO, Solavei, closed its doors permanently after operating for about 4 years. After it had launched in 2012, Solavei declared bankruptcy a couple of years later. It eventually discontinued its service as of December 4, 2015.
There is one MVNO though that seems to be doing alright -- Consumer Cellular. Many consider Consumer Cellular as the second biggest MVNO today, second only to America Movil’s TracFone. John Marick, the chief executive officer and founder of Consumer Cellular, has recently revealed that the carrier closed the year 2015 with about 1,250 employees, 2.1 million customers, and revenues amounting to $609 million. Those numbers are quite an improvement over the 700 employees, 961,000 customers, and $263 million revenues the MVNO posted in 2012.
Competing against TracFone is certainly no walk in the park, but Consumer Cellular has reason to feel good about its chances. FierceWireless reported back in May earlier this year that TracFone seems to have plateaued at around 25 million customers. Consumer Cellular, on the other hand, is looking at continued growth for its operations. Marick predicts that two years from now, the MVNO will expand to 2,000 employees, 3.25 million customers, and revenues of $1 billion. It is doable, especially when one considers that Consumer Cellular has registered 30 percent growth year over year for the last ten years.
So how did Consumer Cellular pull it off? Simple -- by targeting a specific niche in the market: mobile users who are at least 50 years old. Why old people? Well, Marick and his team found in 2007 that the elderly demographic had the most traction when it comes to mobile use. It certainly helped that around that time, the MVNO signed a revenue-sharing partnership agreement with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), basically allowing the Consumer Cellular to promote its services to AARP members. After deciding to specifically target the 50-plus market, Consumer Cellular then made an effort to deliver its mobile services in the simplest way possible. For instance, it continues to partner with Doro (a phone maker from Sweden) in producing custom feature handsets that can easily and readily be used by senior citizens.
Of course, despite its success, Consumer Cellular is still facing some hurdles looming on the horizon. To continue to survive in a wireless industry ruled by the Big Four (Verizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint), Consumer Cellular will still need to try to keep pace with the pricing and special deals offered by the bigger mobile operators. And as wireless technology continues to evolve, Consumer Cellular will need to be ready to adapt to any new tech, too, if necessary. But so far, sticking to basics has produced impressive results for the MVNO.
Source: Fierce Wireless