In mobile networks, there is this thing called PGW, which acts as the gateway between the internet and the internal network of the operator.

(From the user's perspective, this could be seen as the name of the locality in the first non-local hop when doing a traceroute from the device, or the last hop when doing the traceroute towards the device, e.g. T-MOBILE-US.car1.Sacramento1.Level3.net for Sacramento, California.)

What does this mean in the case of an MVNO on a UMTS/LTE network?

  • Do they run their own PGWs?

    • Do they share PGWs between different carriers, e.g. someone like StraightTalk that operates on all 4 major carriers in the US, all as separate offerings, without roaming on one another?
  • Or is the actual operator that runs the physical UMTS/LTE network is running the PGW, too?

    • If so, do they they physically share their own PGWs and MVNO's PGWs? Or do they only have a limited number of dedicated MVNO PGWs?
  • Did any answer help you? if so, you should accept the answer so that the question doesn't keep popping up forever, looking for an answer. Alternatively, you could provide and accept your own answer. – Ron Maupin Aug 8 '17 at 21:22

It depends - sometimes the MNO will simply hand off at layer 3 from its own PGW to the MVNO's PDN.

Sometimes the MVNO is completely virtual and has no physical network of its own.

In other instances the MVNO might have its own UMTS/LTE network, in which case the MNO will hand off from its SGW to the MVNO's PGW (if I'm remembering my LTE architecture correctly).

  • Well, if an MVNO has its own UMTS/LTE network, then it's no longer an MVNO. :-) – cnst Apr 21 '14 at 16:16
  • Sort of - I'm talking about a situation where a provider has the EPC/HSS/PCRF but shares someone else's RAN. – Dermot Williams Apr 21 '14 at 19:39
  • If we assume that the MVNO has its own EPC, that would imply that the PGW belongs to the MVNO, because PGW is a subcomponent of EPC, by definition, right? – StockB May 13 '16 at 17:23

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