One of the greatest struggles I’ve had to face with my iPhone is the fact that I have two different companies to deal with. When I have a hardware issue, I’m Apple Store-bound. If I have a service issue, I’m headed to the nearest AT&T location. But wouldn’t it be nice if Apple just had its own network? It would be really nice, and it just may happen, according to a recent patent application extension filed by Apple.
The patent application, which was originally filed in 2006 and just extended recently, describes plans to set up Apple as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), but with a little tweak. Normally MVNOs lease wholesale mobile network capacity from just one carrier, such as Sprint or Verizon. Apple, on the other hand, has plans to make contracts and relationships with all the carriers, with its own Home Location Register (a database that stores the SIM card details of every network’s customers.
From there, carriers will be able to place bids for leasing their services out to Apple, which will then pass those offers along to iPhone customers. A hypothetical example would be that Verizon has just enhanced its network in your area, with a fair amount of spare capacity. Meanwhile, Sprint’s network is completely overloaded in your area. Well, idle capacity only costs Verizon money, so with Apple as a multi-carrier-supported MVNO, Verizon can offer Apple a discounted rate on that idle capacity and iPhone users in the area then have the option to use Verizon’s rather vacant network instead of sticking with Sprint’s overloaded one. Calls and data will be cheaper, and Verizon still gets to make some money off of its previously unused capacity. Basically, it’s a win-win for everyone but Sprint.
So just imagine if that little scenario was going down worldwide, instead of just in your neighborhood. iPhone owners would basically get the best service at the lowest rates anywhere they go, which sounds pretty freaking sweet. At least for us. The big four carriers are sure to hate it, of course, because they were given a monopoly rights over radio spectrum and have since used market inefficiencies to their advantage. Until some regulatory changes take place, those carriers are bound to stand in the way of Apple’s MVNO dream.
[via Unwired View]