A mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) is a wireless communications services provider that does not actually own the wireless network infrastructure over which it provides services to its customers. To be able to provide its services, MVNOs buy network capacity from network operators. They operate on top of the existing mobile infrastructure of base carriers while offering cheaper or more flexible data plans compared to those of the base carriers.
One of the main benefits of MVNOs is that they provide competition in the market, which can result in lower prices for consumers. MVNOs can focus on specific value propositions and offer products and services catered to a specific demographic of consumer, for instance, a particular age group. They also allow carriers to expand into new geographic areas and offer unique features and products, increasing connectivity and responding to niche consumer demands. In 2002, the European Commission issued a recommendation to national telecom regulators to examine the competitiveness of the market for wholesale access to network infrastructure.