Apple is reportedly in discussion with wireless providers in the U.S. and the Europe to launch its own cellular service. On Monday, a report from Business Insider, which cites sources close to Apple, says the company is “privately trialling” an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) service in the U.S.
Is Apple really planning an MVNO service?
Business Insider claims that Apple is aiming for the long term, and has no plans to release its network for at least five years. Apple ventured into the segment before launching the first iPhone, as was revealed by a patent filing, which details a system that could automatically switch between multiple wireless carriers. With this concept, the U.S. firm would have been able to sell its first iPhone contract-free. One report even claimed that the late Steve Jobs planned to develop a full cell network for the first iPhone.
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Earlier this year, Google announced its “Project Fi” mobile network plans. The MVNO service, which features a “pay for what you use” data billing policy, is limited to the company’s flagship Nexus 6 smartphone
Will carriers support such a move?
As of now, there is no more information on Apple’s plan, but one thing is for sure. Any such plans would meet stiff resistance from carriers, which would be required to sell network capacity to the iPhone maker for the MVNO. By doing this, they will lose their most profitable wireless subscribers. So it can be assumed that major U.S. carriers such as AT&T or Verizon would not be very supportive of Apple in its MVNO effort. Many studies have found that iPhone users consume more data than any other smartphone user, making them especially lucrative for wireless carriers.
Last year, Apple unveiled its SIM card for the iPad Air 2. The decision was not backed by Verizon, therefore, Verizon’s U.S. customers now need to buy an LTE iPad from Apple and then get a SIM card from the carrier. Earlier this year, there were reports that Apple could put its SIM card in the expected iPhone 6S’ Again, such a move would have caused a stir among carriers globally.
Referring to an investment in carrier networks, Apple CEO Tim Cook said in 2012 that the company does not need to “own the pipe,” but instead would focus on the making quality devices and leave the responsibility of the network to its partners.