MVNO Stories May 24, 2016

Tim Cook rules out Apple becoming a mobile carrier, saying it lacks the expertise

As part of an interview at Startup Fest Europe in Amsterdam today, Tim Cook has ruled out the possibility of Apple becoming a mobile carrier or MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator).

MVNO Stories October 1, 2015

cue

In an interview with London’s Evening Standard, Apple SVP Eddy Cue said that Apple is relaxed about how many Apple Music subscribers are immediately willing to pay for the service once their free trial ends.

Ultimately, you never know until it happens. But we’re pleased with the number of people who have tried. Everybody gets fixated on the short term but we’re in this for the long haul.

Though published today, the interview took place before the trial ended for early adopters, so doesn’t give any hint as to conversion rates … expand full story

MVNO Stories August 5, 2015

Happy Hour 21

Would you switch to Apple as a cellular provider? That’s the big question this week. Apple denied these reports, but there may be some details in this denial that lead other places. Speaking of unannounced and rumored Apple products, it looks like there’s new information on Project Titan, which could be a Cupertino-made electric car. The Happy Hour podcast is available for download on iTunes and through our dedicated RSS feed.

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MVNO Stories August 4, 2015

applesim

Apple today denied a recent report that the company is in the process of testing out its own Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) services, a sign it could be laying the groundwork to offer its own wireless services for its devices. Apple has officially issued a statement on the story from Business Insider, saying it’s not planning or discussing an MVNO cellular service: expand full story

MVNO Stories August 3, 2015

apple-sim

Following the iCloud voicemail transcription news from earlier today, Business Insider is reporting that Apple may actually be following Google’s Project Fi  into the “becoming a carrier” field.

Sources close to Apple say that the company is privately trialling an MVNO service in the US, but is also currently in talks with telecoms companies in Europe about bringing the service there too.

MVNO or Mobile Virtual Network Operator  is a wireless communications services provider that does not own the wireless network infrastructure over which the MVNO provides services to its customers. Google’s Project Fi uses Sprint and T-Mobile’s infrastructure and combines them to become a “super-carrier”.

Apple of course announced the so far iPad-limited Apple SIM last year which allows you to choose between a handful of network carriers for iPad data on a month to month basis.

Three weeks ago, the UK-based FT reported that Apple and Samsung were in talks with carriers to launch “e-SIM” cards and and Apple MVNO service might be an evolution of that.

The idea behind the talks is a universal standard for embedded SIM cards (“e-SIM”) that are built into the phone and not user accessible. These subscriber identity modules would allow customers to sign up for service on any network they wanted, then allow them to switch at any time (obviously with some limitations placed by the carriers).

Apple isn’t the only smartphone manufacturer in these discussions. Samsung is also reported to be part of the talks, meaning this tech could become a real standard across iPhone and Android devices, unlike Apple’s current SIM which is locked specifically to the company’s hardware.

Apple has a long history of flirting with the MVNO business with an insider revealing that Steve Jobs wanted Apple to become a carrier before the release of the iPhone (if only!). Telecom vet and former CTIA chairman John Stanton had worked with Jobs on the project… expand full story

MVNO Stories February 11, 2015

iPhone-6-Ting-Sprint-MVNO

Sources say Sprint is dropping a requirement that made the mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) using its network—such as Ting, FreedomPop, Straight Talk, Boost, and Virgin—wait a certain period of time, usually at least a year, before offering support for the latest devices. expand full story

MVNO Stories February 25, 2014

Ting-iPhone-5

Update, March 11: As expected, Ting just confirmed official iPhone 5 support. It expects support for the iPhone 5s and 5c to come by September. Full details in our original article below:

Soon users will be able to activate their unlocked Sprint iPhone 5 on Ting, the Tucows-owned Sprint MVNO offering no-contract wireless service and usage-based billing. Late last year we reported that the company had made a deal with Apple and Sprint to begin supporting iPhones. At the time the bring-your-own-device support was limited to the iPhone 4 and 4S and sources told us iPhone 5 support was held up by Sprint, which doesn’t typically offer popular devices to its smaller carrier partners until they are at least a generation or two behind. Now, with the iPhone 5s & 5c on the market for almost half a year, sources say Sprint and Apple are finally ready to give Ting the go ahead for iPhone 5 support. expand full story

MVNO Stories May 9, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-05-09 at 10.09.43 AM.

As we reported last week, AT&T today launched its new pre-paid wireless MVNO called Aio Wireless with the iPhone 5 on offer, front and center. Currently, the service is only available in Houston, Orlando and Tampa but it is expected to roll out nationally over the coming months.

The company will offer 4 plans: Aio Basic, Smart and Pro phone plans at $35-40 for 250MB, $55 for 2GB and $70/month for 7GB data respectively. Each plan will shift to lower speed data after data is used up and also offers unlimited calls and text on AT&T’s network. They will also offer a tablet plan that starts at $15/month for 250MB.

The MVNO will carry Android, Windows and Apple smartphones including iPhone 4S for $499 and iPhone 5 for $649 without subsidy. They also cap 4G data at 4Mb/s so LTE speeds shouldn’t be expected.

Clearly this, as well as Verizon’s upcoming MVNO-like service, will address the competition from T-Mobile and other pre-paid carriers.

Press release and rate plans follow: expand full story

MVNO Stories May 3, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-05-03 at 2.46.47 PM

ItsOn, a company building software for carriers that provides users with dynamic pricing plans on mobile devices, last year announced plans to partner with one of the big U.S. carriers for its launch early this year. We’ve since learned that the carrier is likely Verizon, and that ItsOn will be launching as a consumer facing MVNO later this month (Verizon and Vodafone who both share ownership of Verizon Wireless are both investors).

There’s no word on exactly what the announcement will consist of or what the ItsOn service will include, but based on the company’s software we expect to see flexible pricing plans that, of course, run on Verizon’s robust LTE network. Despite executives expressing doubts about the service running on iOS devices in previous interviews, we also believe that an iOS version of the service is indeed coming, but at launch the service will initially be limited to other smartphones (likely Android-based). expand full story

MVNO Stories March 6, 2013

Solavei, the T-Mobile MVNO with the interesting affiliate program now carries iPhone 5 nano SIMs on its unlimited $49/m plan

Solavei, the T-Mobile MVNO offering $49-per-month unlimited on the carrier’s newly enhanced HSPA+ network, today announced the availability of nano SIM cards for unlocked iPhone 5 owners. That means iPhone 5 customers will now be able to sign up to the unlimited voice, text, and data plans by purchasing a nano SIM direct from Solavei for $9.

Solavei®, an affordable contract-free mobile service provider, today announces the availability of nano SIM cards, compatible with the iPhone 5, and widening the company’s phone compatibility to include all major smartphones. For $49 per month, members can now bring popular phones such as Apple’s iPhone 5, Samsung’s Galaxy SIII or Google’s Nexus 4 to Solavei and enjoy unlimited voice, text and data mobile service.

For those unfamiliar, on top of unlimited $49 per month plans, Solavei offers users the ability to offset their bills by earning monthly income from recommending others to the service. For every three users you sign up, the carrier will put $20 toward your monthly bill. Signing up an additional six will pay your entire bill and earn you a bit of extra money. Solavei said it uses the system in lieu of traditional advertising and noted it has paid out over $6.5 million through the program:

MVNO Stories December 20, 2012

T-Mobile-iPhone

T-Mobile’s Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray announced on the company’s blog today that 14 new metro areas are getting access to its iPhone-compatible HSPA+ 4G network. The updates are hitting areas such as New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, Dallas, Texas, Florida, and San Antonio, following rollouts to Chicago, California, and elsewhere earlier this month.

The carrier also said enhancements to its network in additional areas like Los Angeles and San Diego have already started. This means that customers on Solavei, the new, no-contract T-Mobile MVNO offering of $49 per month unlimited, will also get coverage for unlocked iPhones in the new areas. A full list is below:

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MVNO Stories May 1, 2012

Industry expert sees Apple becoming a mobile operator

At a recent presentation in front of international wireless operators at the Informa MVNO Industry Summit in Barcelona, wireless industry analyst Whitey Bluestein claimed Apple will soon move to provide wireless service directly to users of its iOS devices. Specifically, he said Apple will beat Google to become a mobile virtual network operator. While noting Apple’s distribution through retail stores and the 250 million iTunes accounts with credit cards, Bluestein said Apple’s biggest barrier is the subsidies paid by carriers to offer consumers iPhones at their current prices on contract. We already know former Apple CEO Steve Jobs wanted to “replace carriers” and worked on it leading up to the iPhone launch, but Bluestein said Apple would soon be the “first mover” as Google struggles to compete with the iTunes ecosystem.

Here are the main points:

  • Apple will in the near future begin providing cellular service, data, voice and roaming, directly to its customers.
  • Apple will begin by offering mobile data plans bundled with iPads (vs. current practice of selling GSM iPads with AT&T data and CDMA iPads with Verizon data plans).
  • Apple will then offer iPhone customers activation, data and international roaming plans through the iTunes Store.
  • Apple will provide voice, data and messaging plans directly to its iPhone customers, on an ala carte basis as an alternative to their current mobile operator and then as wireless service provider directly to customers.
  • Google, while behind Apple in technology, distribution and back-office capabilities, will nevertheless follow in lock-step behind Apple and provide wireless data services directly to its Google Tablet customers.

The big problems obviously include the mobile industry’s resistance to Apple becoming an MVNO. Also, Apple becoming a carrier would be a difficult transition and would leave customers with two-year contracts stranded on previous carriers.

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