iPhone 6 Plus (hand 001)

You might be able to replace your dreaded carrier with Apple by 2020 as the company is reportedly in talks to launch its own virtual network service in the United States and Europe, Business Insider reports.

A mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO, leases mobile network capacity rather than own spectrum or run expensive wireless network infrastructure.

According to Business Insider’s sources in the know, carriers would auction capacity to Apple so it could run the service itself. The Cupertino firm “is privately trialling” an MVNO service in the United States, the story goes, and is negotiating with wireless carriers in Europe about bringing the service to that continent.

If Apple decides to offer a MVNO service, it will take “at least five years” to fully launch, as per telecoms sources who spoke to the publication. It’s apparently “open secret” among carriers that a virtual Apple network is on the way.

By purchasing bulk access to network services at wholesale rates, MVNO providers can set retail prices independently and in some examples manage to undercut the carriers they lease network capacity from.

If Apple becomes a MVNO provider, you’ll be paying them monthly charges for cellular data, phone calls and texts. Curiously enough, Apple in 2012 patented a technology that would automatically switch between multiple wireless carriers, yet another indication that the firm sees itself becoming a MVNO operator.

This is also where the Apple SIM could show its full potential.

apple sim

Even as the iPhone is reportedly working with cell providers on a new electronic SIM standard, it’s developed its own SIM card called the Apple SIM which allows iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 owners to switch wireless service easily between T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T in the United States, and EE in the United Kingdom, right within the Settings app and on the fly.

An Apple-run wireless service could benefit tremendously from 850+ million credit cards iTunes has on file, 456 Apple retail stores around the world (190 of which are outside the U.S.), world-class support as well as from the strong gravitational pull of the Apple brand.

Business Insider also said today Apple was testing an ‘iCloud Voicemail’ service said to automatically transcribe voicemail messages using Siri, due in 2016 with iOS 10.

Typically, the outlet isn’t a very reliable source of Apple rumors, but that doesn’t mean you should disregard the MVNO report—quite the contrary.

Talks of an Apple MVNO have persisted for years.

Steve Jobs and Stan Sigman

Ever since Steve Jobs took the MacWorld stage in January 2007 to deliver his career-defining iPhone presentation, the technology world has been speculating that the only reasons Apple chose AT&T as the exclusive U.S. carrier for the original iPhone stemmed from the technical hurdles preventing it from becoming a MVNO at the time.

Steve’s hatred for carriers is legendary.

“He wanted to replace carriers,” John Stanton, chairman of venture capital firm Trilogy Partners, said of Steve in 2011. “He and I spent a lot of time talking about whether synthetically you could create a carrier using Wi-Fi spectrum. That was part of his vision.”

An interesting presentation analyst Whitey Bluestein gave at the 2012 Barcelona Informa MVNO Industry Summit features the following takeaways:

  • Apple will bundle data with their tablets
  • Customers will buy data plan, and roaming, in iTunes Store
  • Apple will offer voice and data roaming plans in iTunes Store for iPhones
  • Apple will become full MVNO, with nanoSIM in all devices, provisioned and subscribed through iTunes

Let’s pretend Apple’s become an MVNO.

It the firm offered competitive prices—and assuming greedy carriers would be willing to sell network capacity to Tim Cook & Co. in the first place—would you consider ditching your carrier for Apple?

Source: Business Insider

  • ieatcalcium

    I’m so so sooooo looking forward to this. Coverage EVERYWHERE, boosted download speeds if one carrier’s network is clogged, cheaper data rates…. I hope this happens.

    • nonchalont

      Maybe even encrypted conversations 😀

      • George

        Never gonna happen.

      • LaurenRFrantz

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    • Admin001

      me too.

  • n0ahcruz3

    If they offer unlimited everything, free data roaming, decent coverage, music freedom at a fair price then i’ll ditch my carrier.. Lol

  • Ds

    unless it can compete with Verizons coverage in my area and offer unlimited data, texting and a fair amount of minutes. I would then consider switching.

    I’m still kicking myself in the ass over losing my unlimited data..

    • Luke Per

      I also have verizon. I get great connection and what not. The only thing is i dont have unlimited data and lets be serious, everyone knows if this happens its going to be $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

  • Ángel Javier Esquivel

    If they come to Mexico, I will middle-finger all of the carriers here and go fro Apple

    • Jesus Villarreal Herrera

      Have you try virgin mobile here in Mexico?
      Pretty cool actually

      • Ángel Javier Esquivel

        Indeed, I’m with virgin mobile right now

    • dudeimmexican

      It’s a first, seeing native Mexicans talk to each other in English.

      • Ángel Javier Esquivel

        It’s a first? ¿Qué es eso?… Te puedo decir tacos :v

      • dudeimmexican

        Llamame lo que tu quieras guapo jajaja!
        no mms lol

      • Ángel Javier Esquivel

        Jajajaja, pues ¿qué tiene de malo escribir en inglés, en un blog en inglés?

      • Jerry

        Ay ay ay!

  • :D

    Woohoo competition!

  • :D

    On an unrelated note, the latest Activator update has been causing my phone (iPhone 6) to go into respring loops.
    Stay on the current version for now

  • Greenery

    Am I the only one that’s afraid of what Apple has in store for us in the future? ..I mean don’t get me wrong, I own apple products (iPhone, iPad, Mac, etc) And I love em, but we think they’re huge now, but wait till later. They’re always gonna keep trying to improve & reinvent themselves. I think they’re gonna take over the world is a technology sense. Apple will be on everything.

    • Zzyzxd

      Speaking of “being on everything”, Apple is not even close to Google. Give it a decade then we will see (if it is still there).

    • White Michael Jackson

      Soon saying that will get you killed. 1984.

    • Micrones

      Apple cannnot take over everything, No company no matter how big has the capacity to take over everything, at some point , diminishing returns sets in when you overextend yourself as a company

    • iDude

      I agree. they will also create robots to replace humans on this planet.

  • Al

    Mind you.. I enjoy Apple products, but the way Apple charges a premium on their products… I remain skeptical.

    • Merman123

      They charge a premium for premium products. I’d pay a premium for premium service.

      • Al

        I don’t know. In terms of wireless service I’d prefer having a cheaper reliable service, having a premium service wouldn’t really interest me. I understand people would pay for premium service, but I think majority would go the cheaper reliable service route.

      • George

        So you would pay more for the same service you would be getting from a regular carrier? It’s not like Apple is magically building towers.

  • Seba

    If Apple would charge less $$$ for my family plan of 4 iPhones with same coverage I have with ATT then HELL YES I would switch 😉

    • Agreed. If they get the same coverage as AT&T Verizon I’m on board.

  • Next up : Apple to become a water company in 2025

  • nyangejr

    Anything Apple

  • Brian S

    Isn’t Google looking into becoming a carrier as well?

    • Anonymous

      Yes, they are. Very simliar concept.

      • Brian S

        Ah this is going to be very interesting..

        Apple is going to want to make their iPhones exclusive to their carrier but than again they wanna be able to sell alot of units, so they might ultimately just offer cheaper plans in order to attract people to switch over.

      • Anonymous

        Yeah agreed.

    • George

      They already have and its better then what Apple is doing, googles service switches from T-Mobile, sprint and wifi. It’s using new technology.

  • Hydro Mac

    Apple will have to eventually buy spectrum since the telco’s won’t put up with Apple’s bullshit.

  • Anonymous

    I’d switch, mainly due to cell companies being slow to adopt new apple fetures. As far as coverage goes.;I spent most my time in the city i live in. And apple wont allow for coverage unless its in your area. So yes id swtich.

  • dudeimmexican

    If Apple can’t beat what T-Mobile is doing I’m down. (Mind you I pay for the $30 plan from T-Mobile, with 5GB date 100 min/ unlimited texting) !

  • Guy

    I know everybody’s talking very positively about this subject. But we all know too well what happens when a company has too much power.

  • This Guy

    Hmm.. I wonder how tethering would work. Would Apple as a carrier restrict it’s own feature unless you pony up another $30 per month for a limited amount of tethering data?

  • Jerry

    Take my money now! My body is ready!

  • Dante Arellano

    That is power apple’

  • BEDU

    I JUST suggested this idea on another article

  • @dongiuj

    They need to come to Japan and sort out the monopolising carriers.

  • Shingo

    where is Shamesunk? they should become one of provider too!