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Mobile network operator

(also MNO, mobile service operator, mobile service provider, wireless service provider)

Mobile network operator definition

MNO refers to a telecommunication service provider — an organization that owns and operates the telecom infrastructure necessary to sell and deliver wireless voice and data communication services between its users.

Services provided by an MNO

  • Wireless connectivity — the transmission of cellular (or “mobile”) data for accessing the internet when not connected to Wi-Fi. Cellular data is internet content delivered to mobile devices (for example, smartphones, tablets, and computers) over a wireless cellular connection.
  • Telephone services that include calls (voice calls, voicemail, and conference calls), supplementary services (may include call forwarding, hold, transfer, and barring), messaging (text messages [SMS]), multimedia services (multimedia messages [MMS]), and enhanced media services.
  • Customer care, billing, repair, and other services related to the provision of MNO services.

How does an MNO operate?

An MNO sets up the physical infrastructure and the supporting software to create a telecommunication network. Then it sells access to the network and related services, which include delivering telecommunications between end-user devices in the form of voice, data, and video. It hosts and manages communications between both users in the same network as well as in external wireless and wired networks.

Leading MNO providers in 2024

  • Operating in Europe: Deutsche Telekom (Germany), Telefonica (Spain), Vodafone (UK), Orange (France).
  • Operating in North America: Verizone, T-Mobile, and AT&T Mobility (US); Tellus, Bell, and Rogers (Canada).
  • Operating in Latin America and the Caribbean: America Movil (Mexico), Telefonica (Spain), AT&T (US).
  • Operating in Africa: MTN (Nigeria), Ethiotelecom (Ethiopia), Glo Mobile (Nigeria).
  • Operating in the Asia Pacific region: China Mobile (China), Jio (India), Telkomsel (Indonesia).