Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) denied a media report that it plans to launch an MVNO service, throwing cold water on speculation that the iPhone maker could someday directly challenge its carrier partners.
"We have not discussed nor do we have any plans to launch an MVNO," an Apple spokeswoman told Reuters in a statement.
On Monday, Business Insider reported that Apple was privately testing an MVNO service in the U.S. and also in talks with European carriers on an MVNO as well. The report, citing unnamed sources, said that although Apple will purchase wholesale wireless capacity from carriers as other MVNOs do, Apple's SIM card, which it uses in new iPad models, would switch between carriers to offer customers the best service.
The report said there is no guarantee Apple's service will launch beyond a test phase, and if it does, it could take at least five years to fully launch the service. There have been several reports and rumors over the years that Apple was interested in launching an MVNO. The company in 2006 filed a patent application on becoming an MVNO and extended it in 2011. That application indicated that Apple intended to strike deals with multiple carriers and have its own database to store SIM card details. However, Apple never followed through on those plans and has become the No.2 smartphone maker in the world in part by relying on distribution through hundreds of carriers.
Earlier this year, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) launched its Project Fi MVNO in partnership with Sprint (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS). The service lets customers dynamically switch between the carriers' LTE networks and Wi-Fi networks for the best service. However, for now, Project Fi is invitation-only and works on just one phone, the Nexus 6. Many reviewers have praised the network functionality of Google's service and how the service credits users for unused mobile data, but have dinged it for only working on one smartphone thus far.
- see this Reuters article
Report: Apple privately testing a U.S. MVNO, has eyes on Europe as well
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Google's Project Fi handoffs: Is it magic?
Project Fi review calls network transition 'magic,' but dings MVNO for lack of devices
Google Project Fi MVNO users may not receive invitations to join the service until July or August