Welcome!

iPhone Authors: Natalie Lerner, Gilad Parann-Nissany, Carmen Gonzalez, Elizabeth White, David H Deans

Blog Feed Post

Is 2013 the Year of the MVNO?

By

straighttalk

For 50 a month, get all the Text/Calls you can

For the past 8 months, I’ve been using different versions of MVNOs. MVNOs are mobile virtual network operators, they run on top of traditional wireless carriers, providing access for a fraction of the typical mobile network costs. MVNOs come in many different varieties, from Wal-Mart’s Straight Talk to T-Mobile’s Solavei. My experiments with these have led me to the following conclusions;

  • traditional mobile network services are overblown and a waste of money
  • CDMA networks (Sprint/Verizon) are a waste of money
  • the booming second-hand smartphone market combined with the way Google is selling Android smartphones provides freedom from traditional contract schemes
  • MVNO’s are smarter than regular operators, they provide incentives and flexibility
  • there is a difference in service between AT&T/Verizon, Sprint/T-Mobile and then MVNOs (and you pay for it)
  • a dedication to MVNOs requires some hard work, it requires some technological know how but it’s not impossible
boostmobile

Boost operates on Sprint’s networks

So why might this year be the year of the MVNO?

Assertion 1: traditional mobile network services are overblown and a waste of money - Traditional mobile networks in the US require a commitment of $80-100 a month, to start. You pay for data, minutes and text messages, often a fee for each service. Carriers do not give you a break for underusing, but will charge you an arm and a leg for any overages. While T-Mobile and Sprint will offer you “unlimited” for around $80, their service is somewhat lacking, AT&T and Verizon no longer have any unlimited plans, and charge a ton for data, and a criminal amount for SMS.

Assertion 2: CDMA networks (Sprint/Verizon) are a waste of money - These networks use proprietary coding, so that the smartphones can only be used on their networks. If you only have CDMA (not 4G LTE) your data speeds are incredibly poor, and battery life suffers due to technological limitations. This vendor lock in has forced people to stick to bad contracts, and bad service. Global networks are possible on CDMA smartphones, but you cannot just jump from provider to provider, or get services anywhere you choose. Yes, Verizon does offer 4G LTE, but I only believe you need those services for Streaming and Tethering, and not much else.

cricketAssertion 3: the booming second-hand smartphone market combined with the way Google is selling Android smartphones provides freedom from traditional contract schemes - You can find a used Galaxy Nexus GSM for around $200, a used Samsung Galaxy S3 for $300 and an iPhone 4S for the same price. Google is selling the best smartphone for $299/349 right now (when they are available). It is no longer a requirement to get contract reduced prices to get a good phone, but if you are willing to tinker, you will get the latest and greatest capabilities. Purchasing a subsidized/contract type phone just is not worth it anymore, the benefits do not out weigh the cost of being on a contract.

Assertion 4: MVNO’s are smarter than regular operators, they provide incentives and flexibility - Most MVNOs have a variety of ways in which the operate. One, gives you credits for adding other users, another, lets you add things such as tethering. They can be used for only a few days a month, or in one lump fee for the year (with a savings tacked on). T-Mobile even allows you to take out insurance on your smartphone, on a pay as you go basis. By making you a part of the marketing and sales team, you can save yourself money (or make it!).solavei

Assertion 5: there is a difference in service between AT&T/Verizon, Sprint/T-Mobile and then MVNOs (and you pay for it) - You won’t have a store you can go into to get your phones to work, it’s unlikely you’ll have insurance, and there isn’t always quality customer service available. Most MVNOs offer zero roaming, because they only are attached to a single carrier. If you’re a rural user, this can ruin your experience. Similarly, if you have to have service all over, you are best off with AT&T/Verizon, if you need to save the money, Sprint/T-Mobile are decent, but if you are adventurous MVNOs can work, and work well. When you go the MVNO route, you take customer service into your own hands, with Google/Titter and more, you need it.

virginmobileAssertion 6: a dedication to MVNOs requires some hard work, it requires some technological know how but it’s not impossible - Pretty much any device can be activated on MVNOs, but only if you work at it. I had to put a fake IMEI into one service just to get a simcard. Sometimes you’re searching the internet for proper APNs, or just taking hours to get things going. It happens, but I’ve found it to be relatively worth it. I have used a variety of them (all on GSM variants) and think each one has its own merits.

So is it?

I think so, everyone has heard about Cricket or Boost Mobile, but there are variants for every carrier and (pretty much) every device. MVNOs offer the ability to make your own decisions about your smartphone carrier, and with the device you use most often, you should have flexibility.

How am I doing it?

Right now I’m on Solavei, you can find more details about it via this link, or you can just straight enroll via this one. Solavei is an MVNO that runs on T-Mobile, and gets true HSPA+ speeds (which do not quite rival 4GLTE, but are more than enough). The service is the same as T-Mobile, just without roaming. Is it the perfect solution, no, but it does allow me to cut in half a monthly bill that just was not cutting it.

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments, or find me on Twitter, right here.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley, former CTO of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), is Founder and CTO of Crucial Point LLC, a technology research and advisory firm providing fact based technology reviews in support of venture capital, private equity and emerging technology firms. He has extensive industry experience in intelligence and security and was awarded an intelligence community meritorious achievement award by AFCEA in 2008, and has also been recognized as an Infoworld Top 25 CTO and as one of the most fascinating communicators in Government IT by GovFresh.

@ThingsExpo Stories
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...

An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
Technology is enabling a new approach to collecting and using data. This approach, commonly referred to as the "Internet of Things" (IoT), enables businesses to use real-time data from all sorts of things including machines, devices and sensors to make better decisions, improve customer service, and lower the risk in the creation of new revenue opportunities. In his General Session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Dave Wagstaff, Vice President and Chief Architect at BSQUARE Corporation, discuss the real benefits to focus on, how to understand the requirements of a successful solution, the flow of ...
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.