- 700 MHz spectrum
- Amp'd Mobile
- Boost Mobile
- Canadian Wireless
- Cell Accessories
- Consumer Cellular
- Consumer Issues
- Liberty Wireless
- Mobile Advertising
- Mobile Data
- Mobile Gaming
- Mobile Safety
- Mobile Video
- O2 Wireless
- Page Plus
- Pay-As-You-Go Faceoff
- Prepaid Phones
- Prepaid Podcast
- Prepaid Services
- Prepayd Wireless
- Republic Wireless
- Simple Mobile
- Straight Talk
- Text Messaging
- Total Call Mobile
- U.S. Cellular
- Verizon Wireless
- Virgin Mobile
- Voyager Mobile
- Walmart Family Mobile
In the wake of it reaching 100,000 subscribers, Blyk, the free ad-based U.K. MVNO, has published a manual of how to do what they did. It’s an interesting concept for sure, and Blyk’s success is an encouraging development. It targets the right audience — teens, who might have trouble paying for a cell phone — and apparently reaches them in an appropriate manner.
May 28th, 2008 | MVNO | No Comments
Last week, we talked about MVNOs in America, and got some insightful responses. There’s a lot at play, to be certain. Japan now sees MVNOs as a potential competition booster. So they’ve instructed carriers to disclose their network leasing fees. This will allow potential MVNOs to decide whether it makes sense to enter the market.
May 22nd, 2008 | MVNO | 4 Comments
Everyone really has a theory on this, so it’s tough to come to a solid conclusion. We know the effects: about a half dozen MVNOs have sunk in the past 18 months, and a number of others, including Virgin Mobile and Helio aren’t performing as well as they had hoped. Yet we see new MVNOs pop up around the world, and don’t hear the same stories of their failure. Why is this? How can MVNOs succeed in one environment, and not another? Once again, we might not be able to solidly conclude the answer, but we can take a look at what some people have to say on the issue.
May 19th, 2008 | MVNO | No Comments
It always pains me to write about an MVNO dropping out of the game. I’m a firm believer that MVNOs can work, and the current environment isn’t helping my case. Rather than list the ones that have bitten the dust recently, I’ll just get to the newest one: Embarq. The spin-off of Sprint has announced that they will cease all sales after unloading their current inventory. So it’s not that they’re going dark. And, apparently, it looks like Embarq wasn’t bleeding money like other MVNOs.
May 8th, 2008 | MVNO | No Comments
We keep hearing about grocery store MVNOs — namely Hy-Vee and H-E-B. And since I haven’t heard word of them shutting down, it appears that they may be onto something. Another one has reared its head: Meijer, a Midwest chain with 181 supercenters in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky.
May 7th, 2008 | MVNO | No Comments
iLocus conducted a survey of MVNOs to find out which ones were mulling mobile VoIP options. For those unfamiliar, VoIP — voice over Internet protocol — allows you to make voice calls over an Internet connection. While Skype is one of the most recognizable names in VoIP, many major cable companies, including Cablevision, Comcast, and Verizon, offer voice services which are a beefed up VoIP. So it turns out that nearly a quarter of MVNOs are offering or trialling mobile VoIP services, and over two thirds plan to have the service in place by 2010.
May 6th, 2008 | MVNO | No Comments
I was just thinking the other day: What happened to the Qwest deal? The MVNO has been looking for a better carrier agreement since late February. We’ve heard that they talked to Verizon, as well as AT&T. They have ended up with the most sensible option, Verizon, in a five-year agreement which will begin this summer. The catch is that they might not really be an MVNO anymore.
April 25th, 2008 | MVNO | No Comments
Last year, UK-based MVNO Blyk announced that they would offer free cellphone service to people aged 16 to 24. At the time, I lamented how that wouldn’t fly in the U.S., though Google has brought up the notion of an ad-supported service of some sort. The only catch is that you get just 43 minutes per month, with 217 text messages to go along. Well, they just announced their 100,000th customer.
April 22nd, 2008 | MVNO | No Comments
We thought we were seeing the death of another MVNO earlier this month, as Movida, an Hispanic-market service, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. At that point, as it usually is at the beginning of such proceedings, it was unclear whether Movida would emerge, or if it would collapse. It has emerged, as Maryland-based APC Wireless has agreed to buy the company.
April 11th, 2008 | MVNO | No Comments
So it turns out that reports of MVNO Sonopia’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Well, maybe not greatly, but they certainly aren’t true, according to founder Juha Christensen. Instead, they’re just cutting nearly every cost in a hibernation-like move. Once the U.S. market warms up to MVNOs — which could be years — then Christensen will head back into business.
April 10th, 2008 | MVNO | 2 Comments
I really wish they had done this. If they had, I likely would be an iPhone user right now. In a recently-published patent filing, Apple reveals that the had planned to launch the iPhone on an MVNO. Their own MVNO, that is. Like Tracfone, it would have drawn service from all participating providers, allowing a greater level of coverage across the country. I’m not sure why this plan wasn’t executed. It could have been a number of reasons, ranging from pure financial to disdain from carriers. But it sounds like it would have been an efficient offering.
April 9th, 2008 | MVNO | 1 Comment
With all of the MVNOs that have died recently, you’d think it’s an unsustainable business model. And maybe it is at this point. Another one has laid off its staff and closed its doors: Sonopia, a carrier which helped organizations open their own mini networks. The problem was the same as many of the other MVNOs we’ve seen shut down over the past year: Lack of subscribers. While niches can sometimes provide targeted and enthusiastic markets, it appears Sonopia was too niched.
April 2nd, 2008 | MVNO | No Comments
Weren’t we just talking about MVNOs? While Richard Branson thinks Virgin Mobile is strong, not all MVNOs can say the same. Movida, an Hispanic-market MVNO which launched in 2005, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It’s largest debt is $15.9 million, owed to Sprint Nextel.
March 10th, 2008 | MVNO | No Comments
In what might be a move to increase their leverage, Qwest Wireless is in talks with AT&T to forge a new MVNO relationship. They currently have an agreement with Sprint, but are unhappy with the arrangement there. Sprint has its own problems, so going out of their way to broker a new deal with Qwest likely isn’t atop their priority list. So the MVNO is looking to take its 800,000-plus customers elsewhere. It was confirmed that Qwest held talks with Verizon. No resolution has been made yet, but CEO Ed Mueller says he’ll make a decision “soon”.
February 27th, 2008 | MVNO | No Comments
Yesterday, we found out that Qwest, an MVNO of the Sprint network, was looking for a better deal. Like other telecommunications companies, their landlines aren’t doing so well, and their broadband is facing competition from faster, more powerful entities. There were hints that they’d try to broker this deal with Sprint, since Sprint has a decent amount of subscriber from its MVNOs. But now they’re talking to Verizon about a possible deal.
February 26th, 2008 | MVNO | 2 Comments
Qwest Wireless is one of those rare MVNOs that operates as a postpaid service. This puts them in a boat with, really, Helio and a scant few others. The general idea is that if people wanted to be locked into a contract, they’d opt for the services of the larger carriers. For Helio, postpaid makes sense because they differentiate themselves from the pack with excellent handset offerings. I’m not sure exactly what Qwest brings to the table, but it must be something, since it actually discontinued its prepaid service. In any regard, the MVNO is looking to break ties — or at least change the arrangement — with its current host, Sprint Nextel.
February 4th, 2008 | MVNO | No Comments
Voce wireless customers became distraught on Friday when they attempted to make phone calls. Their phones, um, didn’t work anymore. Though no formal announcement has been made, it appears that Voce, a luxury MVNO offering a “concierge” service, is down for the count. They join ESPN Mobile, Amp’d Mobile, Disney Mobile, and XE Mobile as MVNO casualties. They were formerly on the AT&T network.
January 17th, 2008 | MVNO | No Comments
As you can see from our list of featured providers, there are quite a few providers you might not know of. For the most part, they’re either regional providers or Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs).
January 15th, 2008 | MVNO | No Comments
Out in San Francisco on January 28th, Besen Group founder Alex Besen will be a presenter at the MVNO Summit. This is a conference scheduled to address the current MVNO landscape and how current MVNOs can reverse current trends and thrive in today’s uber-competitive wireless world. The focus will be on evaluating what is working in the MVNO industry, as well as on taking advantage of undervalued market opportunities. Other key points include:
December 27th, 2007 | MVNO | 1 Comment
We had this press release sitting in our inbox over the holidays, and we’re not quite sure why this wasn’t mentioned earlier. Airlink Mobile, an MVNO of the Sprint network, has announced a nationwide, flat-rate unlimited calling plan. This strikes us as kind of odd, since Boost Mobile has their own unlimited plan, and Boost is a fully-owned subsidiary of Sprint Nextel.
December 18th, 2007 | MVNO | 5 Comments
We’ve been reading a lot of negative talk about XE Mobile in our featured reviews. The gist is that customer service stinks, and people are losing their balances left and right. Turns out that they’re shutting down their operation at the end of the year. All accounts will be terminated, and all balances will be forfeited at that time. So if you’re an XE customer and haven’t gotten rid of them yet, now is the time to port your number. We’ve heard whispers of a deal to port your number with Beyond Wireless, though we cannot confirm that. Our personal recommendation is to not go with another company just because they have a deal with XE. Go through our featured providers and decide which service would be best for you to port your number to.
November 5th, 2007 | MVNO | 1 Comment
No, it’s not Simple Freedom, one of our featured providers. It’s Freedom Wireless (simply), and it has just inked an MVNO deal to provide voice and data services to markets in North America. This is a big step for the corporation, who before inking an MVNO deal were simply a Verizon reseller. It appears that they’re breaking off from Verizon for this endeavor, as they will offer GSM services.
October 8th, 2007 | MVNO | No Comments
Just last week, we criticized the media for their take on MVNOs. We were particularly critical of the notion of the business model being an inevitable failure, based on three instances of an MVNO folding. We were glad to run into an article this morning by Amol Sarva, who co-founded Virgin Mobile, a successful MVNO. He makes quite a few points about the MVNO business model, and believes that it can succeed.
October 4th, 2007 | MVNO | 1 Comment
We’re not out to cause malice of any sort. However, it grinds our freakin’ gears when someone writes about MVNOs. Usually, they point to Amp’d, ESPN, and now Disney as examples of why the model won’t work. To that we say: Do you even know of other MVNOs? This article by Paul Korzeniowski of bMighty, and IT blot, is particularly frivolous. Right from the first paragraph we can see he clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about: “If marketing maven, Disney could not build a viable MVNO business, can anyone else?” Uh, yes. How about a company dedicated to cell phones, not one dedicated to other forms of entertainment.
September 28th, 2007 | MVNO | 2 Comments
The collapse of Disney Mobile has been talked about since the demise of Amp’d. It started out as ruminations — writers wondering if the whole MVNO model is flawed beyond repair. That lasted most of the summer. Just last week, Disney CEO Tom Stagg himself spoke of the uncertain nature of Disney Mobile. At the end of his speech, he hinted that if the business model wasn’t working currently, they would “reevaluate [their] position.” It only took a week. Disney mobile has folded.
September 21st, 2007 | MVNO | No Comments
Oh Disney. You thought you had such a great idea: Market mobile phones to our target audience! Brilliant! Except it appears that little thought went into the overall process, and the company’s CEO, Tom Stagg, is now expressing concern over the service. This must have flabbergasted the folks at Disney, who probably assumed they could crap on a stick and sell it to children. But, you know, some thought and research has to go into creating an MVNO. Disney will tell you they did their homework, but it’s becoming more and more apparent that they didn’t.
August 7th, 2007 | MVNO, Prepaid Services | 1 Comment
Just when you thought MVNOs might go the way of the Dodo, another one springs up. This time, it’s Democracy Wireless, a subsidiary of Working Assets, whose mission statement is to “help busy people make a difference in the world through everyday activities like talking on the phone.” Democracy is on the Sprint network, so it offers nationwide coverage. The kicker, though, is that a number of services are available on Democracy that simply aren’t on other systems. Whether these services are worth it, though, is the question.
August 2nd, 2007 | MVNO | No Comments
The bankruptcy and eventual disbandment of Amp’d Mobile is unsurprisingly causing a stir in the industry. Everyone is looking for a reason, and many are concluding that MVNOs in general might be the problem. It started with the death of Mobile ESPN, and extended for over a year to cover Amp’d. Even the high-profile MVNOs still in business are in some degree of trouble: Helio is running at high losses, despite a reasonably high customer base, and Virgin Mobile is running a $500 million tab. It certainly appears that being a MVNO is a flawed business model.
July 19th, 2007 | MVNO, Prepaid Services | No Comments
We have to say, we’re pretty impressed with the number of MVNOs that offer international calling. It’s no cheap endeavor, and the MVNOs have to use their parent provider’s international calling network. Even at wholesale, that’s gotta cost a pretty penny. However, there’s a new service out there that provides a solution for MVNOs that want to offer international calling at bargain basement rates. In fact, the way we read this, it might even become a competitive advantage for MVNOs.
June 7th, 2007 | MVNO | No Comments
Probably not, though we’ll probably see a reduction in the number that exist. At least that’s how Julie Ask, research director and and senior analyst for Jupiter Research. While MVNOs traditionally target niche audiences not catered to by the big providers, the realistic size of those audiences isn’t large enough to induce competition. Even if one market consists of four million people, how many of them are realistic targets? Subtracting out those already under contract — or under family plans — reveals many fewer in the market, and then you have to factor in competitors.
Some of the MVNOs targeting younger children (like Kajeet) may fare better as they are looking to sign up new subscribers rather than to lure them from existing plans. Parents are footing the bill for these younger children, but are not necessarily ready to have their youngest children on the family plan. They seek the control and options offered by new entrants such as Disney Mobile and Kajeet.
If Kajeet and Disney play their cards right, they can corner this market. Really, it makes sense: what better audience to capture than those who don’t already have the service? Getting people to switch is difficult — by nature people resist change, and beyond that, you have the issue of prior commitments. With the younger audience, you’re bringing in fresh customers. We like their business models.