Spanish MVNO Ion Mobile has become the latest operator to revamp its postpaid plans with more data and minutes for the same or even lower monthly rates. As a result, subscribers to the operator’s basic €8.75 (US $9.23) a month plan now receive 300 minutes and 5 GB of data for €1.00 a month less, while the €9.75 (US $10.29) a month rate now comes with unlimited calls (up from 200 minutes) plus 10 GB of data.
Customers who are subscribed to the company’s Sota plan with 20 GB of data and unlimited calls for €11.75 (US $12.40) a month can also now add a 10 GB data bonus for €1.00 a month, giving them 30 GB of data for €12.75 (US $13.46).
The Alicante-based operator migrated from the Orange network to that of Movistar (Telefonica) in 2017, converting itself into a full MVNO with 4G/LTE coverage throughout the country. Last October it launched its first family-focused plan, with unlimited calls on up to three lines plus 120 GB of shared data for €38.25 (US $40.37) a month.
MVNO business plans tend to be based on appeals to budget-minded customers’ desire for high value and freedom from commitment. Ion Mobile’s current offer of more data for the same or lower prices fits with the first of these criteria, while responding the to the growing appetite for mobile data even among those who wish to spend relatively little on mobile services.
However, the second aspect, low commitment level, is not of top importance here, insofar as the plans in question are postpaid rather than prepaid. Prepaid users have the lowest commitment level of all mobile users, in that they not only do not have a term of service (such as 12 or 24 months), but they also may end their relationship with their operator or let it go dormant at any time, simply by not topping up their accounts. Postpaid MVNO subscriptions are a little more like mainstream MNO subscriptions.
What we see here from Ion Mobile is a good example of how MVNO and MNO clients are converging in some ways, as customers demand more and more data and mobile device usage becomes more and more integral to people’s existence. While MVNOs continue to target specific demographics in their search for distinctiveness within the marketplace, they are finding that their customers demand more of the things that MNOs have traditionally provided. Conversely, of course, many MNOs have taken a page from the virtual operators’ book, by launching budget-oriented sub-brands.