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What is MNO (Mobile Network Operator)?

A mobile network operator (MNO), also known as a wireless service provider, is a telecommunications company that provides services like voice, data, and video wirelessly to end users. MNOs own and control the entire telecommunications infrastructure to deliver services to subscribers.

What is an MNO?

A mobile network operator (MNO) is a provider of wireless communications services that owns or controls all the elements necessary to sell and deliver services to end users. This includes:

  • Radio spectrum allocation
  • Wireless network infrastructure
  • Backhaul infrastructure
  • Billing systems
  • Customer service
  • Marketing and repair organizations

In other words, an MNO handles everything needed to connect subscribers to wireless services like calling, texting, media streaming and mobile broadband.

What is MNO (Mobile Network Operator)

Capabilities of an MNO

A key capability of an MNO is building and managing a network of infrastructure like cell towers and transmission equipment to offer wireless connectivity. Each subscriber is assigned a unique ID on the network for accessing allowed services.

MNOs also have the systems to handle:

  • Provisioning new subscribers
  • Billing for services
  • Providing customer service
  • Marketing wireless plans

While MNOs can outsource some functions, they need to control the network itself and spectrum access.


Unlike mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), MNOs own network infrastructure instead of leasing from other providers. The infrastructure and licensed spectrum distinguish them as true mobile network operators.

What is the role of MNOs with eSIM?

MNOs have several important responsibilities when it comes to eSIM:

Provisioning eSIM Profiles

MNOs are responsible for securely provisioning eSIM profiles containing network subscription data to devices either remotely over-the-air or locally using QR codes. They enable consumers to easily activate cellular service.

Managing Connectivity

MNOs use eSIM server platforms to manage subscriber eSIM profiles and connectivity. They can add, remove, or update profiles and service plans as needed.

Enabling Roaming Agreements

MNOs facilitate roaming agreements with other operators so that eSIM-enabled devices can connect to different networks, ensuring widespread coverage for travelers.

Driving eSIM Adoption

By offering eSIM connectivity across more devices and service plans, MNOs play a key role in driving mainstream eSIM adoption. Their support helps standardize eSIM technology.

Benefits for MNOs

eSIM also provides benefits for MNOs:

  • Reduce physical distribution costs of SIM cards
  • Ability to address new devices like wearables
  • Improve customer experience with over-the-air activation
  • Enable flexible mobile plans tailored to different devices

Ultimately, MNOs will play a pivotal role as eSIM sees expanded adoption worldwide in years to come.

Lila Bennett

Lila Bennett

Lila Bennett, with 10+ years in eSIM tech, specializes in mobile connectivity solutions. She offers end-to-end eSIM services, from setup to support, for both businesses and consumers. Need eSIM integration or advice? Contact Lila anytime for expert assistance.