We are officially Canada's first approved Full MVNO, which is great news in advance of the CRTC's ruling on the wireless industry review!
The road has been long and difficult since our incorporation in December of 2018. We started blazing this trail in early 2019 when we applied for Proposed Full MVNO status with the CRTC and intervened in the wireless industry review. Since then, we've launched a public alpha of the dotmobile™ smartphone app, signed our first network access agreement and attracted nearly ten thousand founding members.
So why is it a big deal that we're a Full MVNO?
Generally speaking, a Full MVNO operates essentially the same technology as a mobile network operator, but without owning the radio access network (ie. cell towers). Instead, the Full MVNO's core network connects to one or more existing radio access networks owned by other network operators, similar to how that same mobile network operator roams on other networks.
To better understand how similar they are, let's look at the big three in Canada. They all provide nationwide coverage with their networks. The big guys do this by sharing their networks. For example, Bell and Telus each have cell towers that cover only half of the country, but they share them with each other so that their customers get national coverage. Each of them also operates multiple brands on their networks, which means Bell, Virgin, Lucky, Telus, Koodo, and Public Mobile all connect to the same network.
So since Full MVNOs operate a core network just like everyone else, and everyone else is already sharing networks, the difference really just boils down to whether you own any of your own towers or not.
The core network is a big piece of the pie.
A wireless provider's core network is responsible for almost everything other than how many bars of signal your phone gets. It takes care of the basics like routing calls, text messages, voicemail, and connecting you to the internet. They can also do a lot more. Modern core networks that are built primarily as software can better prevent spam calls, seamlessly switch calls from a phone to a laptop and back again, support worldwide High Definition calling over Wi-Fi and LTE, or even integrate your AI assistant into a call. That's just scratching the surface.
We are building dotmobile™ as an application, and that's both literally and figuratively. Everything is in the cloud, including the core network, which is important for us to be scalable and extensible. Our members can expect new feature drops just like any other app or software as a service, and code-savvy Canadians will get the opportunity to build their own features with IFTTT (If This Then That) integration. We're also exploring a dedicated developer portal for those who want to get deeper or build innovative products for IoT or solve specific problems for other users.
One network down, many more to go.
This past September, we signed our first wireless network access agreement with Iristel, a regional provider with their own network in the Far North and Northern Quebec. This was the first of several agreements required to provide national coverage and get affordable and awesome service to Canadians, no matter who they are or where they live.
So what's next?
The CRTC is expected to rule early this year on the wireless industry review that started back in early 2019. The outcome will define the Canadian national wireless infrastructure access rules and rates, similar to the rulings for home internet over the past 10 years. Without knowing the regulatory framework the industry is at a bit of a standstill, waiting to understand what the rules and responsibilities will be for each party.
What is clear, however, is that Canadians need affordable options now more than ever. This means flexibility to reduce costs when needed, eliminate waste and optimize spending.
Stay tuned to our website or download the app to get notifications for upcoming BuildIt! posts where you'll get a chance to tell us what you want out of our core network.