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It’s not just Google: Apple wants to be your wireless carrier too

Published Aug 3rd, 2015 1:26PM EDT
Apple iPhone MVNO
Image: Apple

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In a bombshell of a report, BusinessInsider is claiming that Apple is actively exploring becoming a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) both in the United States and across Europe. Much more than a theoretical plan, the report adds that Apple has already begun trialing such a service in the U.S.

What this means for end users is that Apple would effectively become a network carrier. In such a scenario, Apple would lease space from entrenched carriers and then sell it to consumers directly. So rather than paying a monthly bill to the likes of Sprint, Verizon and others, consumers would instead fork over money to Apple for an assortment of data, text, and call services.

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The upside to this is that an iPhone with an Apple SIM would be able to seamlessly switch between various networks in order to deliver the best possible connection depending on a user’s location. This is especially alluring given how wildly carrier service tends to fluctuate from city to city.

BusinessInsider adds:

Apple already signalled its intent to become the gateway to carriers when it launched the Apple SIM in 2014. It allowed customers to switch between networks through their device using a SIM card that could connect to lots of different carriers. Right now it’s available only for the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3, but future versions of the SIM card could be used to launch an Apple MVNO for iPhones.

While certainly an ambitious goal, this news shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise given Apple’s obsession with controlling as much of the user experience as possible. Of course, if Apple can make some money at the same time, well, that’s even better.

All the same, don’t expect Apple to become your new found carrier any time soon. Naturally, implementing a strategy like this isn’t something that can happen overnight. Indeed, BI speculates that it may take Apple 5 years before its MVNO plans come to fruition.

Interestingly enough, another report from earlier today pointed to Apple rolling out a version of Siri that would transcribe user voicemails, a feature which some believe also points to Apple’s MVNO aspirations.

Whats even more intriguing is that Apple isn’t the only tech giant with its eyes set on becoming an MVNO. Just a few months back we detailed how Google is already planning to do the same with a service its calling Project Fi.

For just $20 a month, Project Fi users will be able to effortlessly switch between Sprint and T-Mobile. Even better, the service will only charge users for data that they actually use. In other words, no more paying through the roof for a data plan that you don’t actually need.

Currently subject to a limited rollout, we’re still waiting to see when Google’s Project Fi goes prime time.

With Apple and Google already competing in smartphone market, it’s endlessly intriguing to imagine a scenario where the two tech giants begin competing as rival carriers.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.