Sprint's newest MVNO pushes LTE with a military twist

A new Sprint (NYSE:S) MVNO called Defense Mobile promises to bring LTE connectivity along with a host of affinity services--including integrated mobile banking--to active-duty U.S military members, veterans and their families. The MVNO's Nov. 11 launch seems appropriate given that date is celebrated as Veterans Day.

Sprint Defense Mobile phone Sprint MiliPay app

Left, a Defense Mobile branded smart phone; right, the MiliPay app. (Source: Sprint / Defense Mobile)

The New York-based MVNO will market nationwide mobile service over Sprint's network through the brands ArmyMobile.com, NavyMobile.com, AirForceMobile.com, and MarinesMobile.com. Though touting its LTE capability, it is likely the company will also rely upon Sprint's CDMA 3G service wherever LTE is not available.

Defense Mobile said it will market smartphones such as the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy 4 and HTC One at affordable prices, with device financing plans available. A photo on the company's website also shows tablets as well. The MVNO will offer fixed monthly rate plans starting at $20, unlimited plans starting at $40 and family share plans starting at $60, all available with or without a two-year contract.

Though Defense Mobile said on its website that its plans will be available at its branch-specific websites starting Veterans Day 2013, actual service will apparently not begin until 2014. In addition to standard mobile services, the company expects to unveil a full slate of affinity services.

For example, every Defense Mobile phone will come with an application linked to a MiliPay prepaid MasterCard, which will also be provided with every new mobile device purchased from the MVNO. Subscribers using the prepaid MasterCard will get immediate cash-back rewards at gas pumps and checkout counters and when paying most utility bills, and the rewards will be deposited into the member's MiliPay account, which can be tracked via the phone app.

Defense Mobile will use a secure third-party link to the Defense Manpower Data Center to verify active duty and veteran status (via the DD-214 form familiar to anyone who has been in the military) and link this verification to a Defense Mobile device and the member's MiliPay debit MasterCard. "This gives DMC the ability to offer a genuine way for corporations and retailers to identify the 51.6 million members of the military community for loyalty and rewards," said Defense Mobile.

Merchant offers provided to a Defense Mobile member will be automatically linked to their Milipay mobile wallet as well as their MiliPay debit MasterCard.  A  specific coupon can be automatically redeemed at the time of purchase. 

A separate MiliSource app, branded by military branch, will include a tab for relevant community resources sorted by status. Other preloaded apps will come from the Veterans Administration, TriCare (military health care), American Legion, GI Bill (education grants), American Military University, MyCAA (Career Advancement Assistance), the USO and more.

All of Defense Mobile's customer service agents are veterans and the MVNO set a goal of having 30 percent of its customer care agents be service-disabled veterans. The company also intends to donate 10 percent of its profits to charities benefiting veterans, including Hire a Hero Foundation, PTSD Foundation of America and Fisher House.

The MVNO's founding leadership includes several wireless veterans. For example, Defense Mobile's Director is Peter Lurie, who co-founded Virgin Mobile USA, now a Sprint sub-brand. Executive director Phil Prouty was a co-founder of Simple Mobile, a T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) MVNO later sold to Tracfone.

Sprint has been attracting considerable attention from startup MVNOs. In the past year, companies including FreedomPop, NetZero, Red Pocket, Republic Wireless, Tempo Telecom, Ting, Votel and Voyager Mobile have all launched over Sprint's network or have announced plans to do so.

For more:
- see this Defense Mobile release and website
- see this GigaOM article

Related articles:
Red Pocket, an AT&T MVNO, to add Sprint services
FreedomPop crosses 100K subs, adds support for Sprint's LTE network
NetZero Wireless signs MVNO pacts with Verizon, Sprint
Sprint MVNO Tempo Telecom launches prepaid service starting at $10 per month
MVNO Ting drops need for deposit, moves to postpaid billing model
VNO Ting to reach breakeven in Q4; 40-50% of new customers are BYOD
Sprint MVNO Zact offers customized data plans, no overage charges

Article updated Aug. 12, 2013, to correct Peter Lurie's title following receipt of updated information from the company.

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