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Apple denies rumor that it plans to become wireless carrier

Apple MVNO

Yesterday, the Internet was aflutter with a tantalizing report claiming that Apple was actively exploring becoming an MVNO. In such a scenario, Apple would lease spectrum from established carriers and then sell it directly to consumers. In short, the report seemed to indicate that Apple was on a path towards becoming a wireless carrier, an admittedly wild idea that wasn’t completely out of this world given Google’s own MVNO initiative.

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But as far as rumors go, this one was particularly short-lived. While Apple tends to ignore rumors completely, it took the unusual step of issuing a blanket rejection of its supposed MVNO plans. In a statement issued to CNBC, Apple said that it has no plans of offering consumers MVNO cellular service.

Well, so much for that. While the idea of Apple becoming an MVNO is certainly intriguing, one can only imagine the panic that set in amongst carriers like AT&T and Verizon when they happened upon the story yesterday. Indeed, the only reason we’re able to purchase iPhones at current price levels is because of carrier subsidies. If consumers started paying Apple for their data, text, and call services, well, getting an iPhone for $199 might not be possible.

And, of course, for Apple to even become an MVNO in the first place, it would effectively have to lease spectrum from carriers that it would then be competing with.

So while Apple did launch the iPad Air 2 with an Apple SIM last year, recall that Tim Cook stated during an All Things D interview a few years ago that Apple doesn’t need to “own the pipe.” Cook further added that Apple wants to focus on making great devices and leave cellular issues to the “people who own it” and who “know more about it than we do.”

A life long Mac user and Apple enthusiast, Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 6 years. His writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and most recently, TUAW. When not writing about and analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions, the most recent examples being The Walking Dead and Broad City.

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