At MWC 2019 in Barcelona, Spain, India-based digital infrastructure provider Tata Communications announced that it is partnering with Uruguayan operator Antel to build a cloud-based virtual mobile network to serve mobile and IoT providers in South America, Central America and the Caribbean. The partnership combines Antel’s data center and knowledge of the Latin American/Caribbean market with the global network reach of Tata’s MOVE platform to enable businesses to quickly deploy new mobile and IoT services across the region.
Under the deal, Antel’s MVNO partners can use Tata’s platform to bring their own mobile network access agreements across Central and South America as well as the Caribbean, or work with Antel as the enabler for mobile wholesale access. As a result, MVNOs of all sizes and market segmentations will be able to launch new mobile and IoT services throughout the region without making large up-front investments in their own mobile infrastructure, network service management or go-to-market operations, according to the partners.
This deal is interesting in that it involves an MNO entering the cloud space to provide virtual services. To do this, it has partnered with a technology provider and is utilizing its platform, but that does not take away from the essential fact that the cloud is enabling a mobile operator—and in this case, one from a very small country—to extend its reach far beyond its home market. In fact, Antel stands to extend its reach to a huge region, Latin American plus the Caribbean.
The arrangement with potential MVNO partners appears to have two aspects: Either they can work via Tata’s MOVE platform or directly with Antel. In either case, though Antel would be acting as an MVNE, but in an innovative way because of the fact that it is cloud-based.
The IoT component is particularly relevant, because of the rapid expansion of this sector of the mobile market. The demand for IoT services will be huge throughout Latin America and the Caribbean in the coming years, and by fulfilling it, Antel is positioning itself to tap into in a very lucrative revenue stream. While MNOs worldwide are offering or preparing to offer IoT services, but again, the cloud-based platform makes it possible to do so far outside the normal constraints of MNOs that are not giant multinationals.
While the development of cloud services might appear to bode ill for traditional operators, in that it allows disruptive providers of mobile connectivity to go around the MNOs—Google Fi is an example—this announcement from Antel suggests a way in which MNOs can play on this field and be relevant beyond the traditional parameters of cellular networks.