It is likely that you are here searching in the online alleys the best MVNOs out there to save a few bucks on the not-so-good looking phone bill. Well, then you are at the right place and we are going to figure that out soon. But before venturing further, let’s understand what exactly is a MVNO.
What is a MVNO ?
MVNO stands for “Mobile Virtual Network Operator“. It is a wireless communications service provider that itself does not own the services of the company or the network infrastructure it uses and provides to its customers.
MVNO is defined as stated above in wikipedia and also sometimes referred as or mobile other licensed operator (MOLO).
They are effectively into a business arrangement that lets the MVNO use the original provider’s services which they themselves bought in bulk quantities and wholesale rates. Then consequently, the retail prices of the services offered can be set independently by themselves without the interference of the parent company.
Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile MVNOs
Generalizing, we can say that almost all the prepaid services you might be currently using, is owned by the “Big 4” ( Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile).
Let’s say for example that you signed up for Page Plus Cellular which is in a lease with Verizon. Now, essentially you can avail the same benefits of one-third the cost which Verizon provides; also the same Verizon coverage will be offered to you.
Now a question pops up in the mind that how come they are earning so much profit? The reason is that the company does not have any infrastructure (wireless towers) to maintain; they are being already taken care of by the Big 4 themselves. Hence, the cost margin does not get affected much.
Secondly, when you sign up with one of the Big 4 giants for buying a new phone, they hide the cost of the phone in your monthly bill. The “free phone” you are getting costs them nearly $250 and that cost gets transferred to you in the contract over the years.
More than often, they charge you much higher than what actually cost them, so it is far cheaper for you to buy a phone from websites like eBay or Amazon and then activate it with a prepaid provider.
Finally, the thing that matters the most to each one of us is coverage. Some carriers like Sprint don’t share their roaming agreements with their own MVNOs. So, to avoid pitfalls, the MVNOs’ pay other companies like Verizon to “roam” on their network connections and communication towers (this only includes voice roaming).
Other MVNOs like Virgin Mobile, which is owned by Sprint; do not agree to this same clause and they only use the parent company’s cell towers for all network-based activities. Hence, their network coverage isn’t as good as Sprint.
MVNO List of US Carrier Networks
|MVNO/Wireless Provider||Network Used|
|Boom! Mobile||Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon|
|Good 2Go Mobile||Sprint|
|Page Plus Cellular||Verizon|
|Project Fi||Sprint, T-Mobile|
|Ready Mobile PCS||Verizon|
|Red Pocket Mobile||AT&T|
|TPO Wireless||Sprint, T-Mobile|
|Walmart Family Mobile||T-mobile|
I have also further classified MVNO based on their carrier network into mainly four networks. You can check these to find the best mvno plan for you.
Or you can also have a look at the Family plans of these networks.