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MVNO vs. MNO : What’s the Difference?

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If you’re getting into the prepaid market, then you have two primary kinds of companies to deal with: MVNOs and MNOs. But, what are they, and which one is better?

What are MNOs and MVNOs?

Before you can compare them, it’s probably a good idea to understand the differences. In short, MNO stands for Mobile Network Operator; in other words, a company that owns and operates its own towers. Examples include AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon and US Cellular. All five of these companies not only own their own networks but then sell them to companies.

MVNO stands for Mobile Virtual Network Operator. These companies don’t actually own the network that they are selling to customers. Instead, they lease network spectrum from MNOs and then resell it to consumers. The catch is that MVNOs don’t have as much control over the network, as they are basically paying rights to resell it to those who do own it.

Which is better?

In short, it really depends on your personal preferences. Each has their own set of pros and cons. MNOs tend to be a bit more expensive, but they are far more stable than MVNOs, which launch and go out of business fairly quickly. On the other hand, MVNOs are often a little cheaper and some of them have far superior customer service. MNOs, however, tend to have better networks and more phone options. It really depends on your preferences.

Which do you prefer? Let me know in the comments!