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Apple Says It Wont Become a Carrier But It Should

FOUR YEARS AGO, an Apple patent surfaced that outlined how the consumer electronics company might become something called an MVNO. Rumors to that effect have persisted for years, most recently resurfacing this week at Business Insider. Apple swatted the latest aside, telling CNBC that it hasn’t discussed and isn’t planning anything of the sort. And that’s a shame, because it absolutely should.1-1 MVNO may sound like an obscure pharmaceutical stock ticker symbol, but it stands for “mobile virtual network operator,” which is admittedly still pretty inscrutable. In practice, though, it’s very straightforward, explains telecom industry analyst Jeff Kagan. “An MVNO is simply a reseller,” says Kagan. “It’s a company who strikes up an agreement with a wireless network to sell wireless service without owning their own networks.”1-2Think of it as Costco, but for wireless service. In the same way that your favorite bulk toilet paper provider repackages name-brand cereal for its Kirkland Signature private label, MVNOs like Republic Wireless (Sprint) and MetroPCS (T-Mobile) are simply selling you access to a larger carrier’s network, often for less than their affiliated providers charge.

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