A key defining characteristic of a mobile network operator is that an MNO must own or control access to a radio spectrum license from a regulatory or government entity. A second key defining characteristic of an MNO is that it must own or control the elements of the network infrastructure necessary to provide services to subscribers over the licensed spectrum.
A mobile network operator typically also has the necessary provisioning, billing, and customer care computer systems and the marketing, customer care, and engineering organizations needed to sell, deliver, and bill for services. However, an MNO can outsource any of these systems or functions and still be considered a mobile network operator.
Example of usage – “Mobile network operators are independent communication service providers that own the complete telecom infrastructure for hosting and managing mobile communications between the subscribed mobile users with users in the same and external wireless and wired telecom networks.”