Finding the best mobile service for your money can be time consuming. There are many providers with a variety of different packages, so it might take a bit of effort to select an affordable phone plan that’s right for you. Add in all of the different discounts and deals available, and some users will simply go with whatever option comes first. Taking this approach, though, can leave consumers missing out.
The larger companies, like Verizon and AT&T, aren’t the best fit for everyone. For that reason, smaller carriers that operate on larger networks might provide a better value to certain users. With simple packages, no-contract terms, and great service, users can get a lot for relatively little.
Having a full MVNO for your wireless communications can be great, but there are some important things to consider when deciding which to go with.
What Is MVNO?
A Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) provides mobile services to customers over a wireless network which is leased from another company. With access to a larger provider’s infrastructure for bulk rates, MVNOs can operate independently and focus more on managing their internal business instead of maintaining infrastructure.
MVNOs work by gaining access to a network’s infrastructure, building out sales models, and contracting with customers to give them access to their leased network. The MVNO business model has grown in popularity recently as more customers discover their readily-available cost-saving benefits.
How Do Mobile Carriers Work with MVNOs?
Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), such as T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint, each have their own wireless service network infrastructure. They rent out their broadband access to third parties, allowing them to piggyback off the existing network to deliver connectivity to new customers. MVNOs can also use a Mobile Virtual Network Enabler (MVNE) to deliver connectivity if they don’t have enough volume to achieve network efficiency.
Telecom companies work with MVNOs so more subscribers can access their broadband for communicating over SMS, accessing network services, and building Internet of Things (IoT) networks.
What is an Example of an MVNO?
MVNO services can rent connectivity from one or many mobile networks to deliver service to their users. While most MVNOs offer prepaid, no-contract plans with affordable pricing, they aren’t for everyone.
To find the MVNO that’s right for you, it’s still important to consider factors such as pricing, data caps, and the availability of cell phones. In most cases, MVNOs allow customers to either purchase phones from resellers or bring their own devices. While activation generally requires a specialized SIM card, some mobile carriers use CDMA phones, which have to be reprogrammed with a pin to operate correctly.
As one of the most popular T-Mobile MVNOs, Metro has all of the latest smartphones available. It’s not just one of the most prominent MVNOs around, either; T-Mobile owns it. As such, Metro customers are given access to greater support options and comprehensive service coverage for their devices, plans, and any accessories.
Metro’s cell phone plans start at just $40/month for unlimited high-speed data over T-Mobile’s nationwide network. For $50/month, customers get access to 5Gb of data to connect to other devices over a temporary Wi-Fi hotspot.
Unlike Metro, the US Mobile MVNO service operates using both T-Mobile’s and Verizon’s network, giving its users the best connectivity wherever they are. US Mobile offers dependable 4G LTE mobile coverage, and its new eSim feature allows users to connect from anywhere without having to have their physical SIM card installed. This makes getting and using devices from resellers much easier, as compatibility isn’t as much of an issue as a result.
US Mobile has flexible plan options, making its service a great fit for everyone. For $35/month, US Mobile customers can purchase a single Limited Basic plan, but when purchasing four or more lines, each line only costs $20. US Mobile’s Power users can take advantage of the Unlimited Premium plan, which adds up to 100 Gb of premium data and 50 Gb of hotspot data for as low as $30/month when more than four lines are activated.
The Boost Mobile MVNO network has been a great option for several years. Because it uses T-Mobile’s network, Boost Mobile customers get access to the fastest speeds over a 5G network, making Boost Mobile’s service one of the best deals around. With great plans and a variety of compatible phones available, users won’t have to look very hard to find a plan that works for them.
Boost Mobile’s Pay-As-You-Go plans let customers mix and match features for even better savings. Starting at just $15/month, Boost Mobile gives its BYO (bring-your-own, referring to phones) customers unlimited talk and text, 2Gb of data, and a mobile hotspot. If you want to go truly unlimited, up to 35 Gb of 5G/4G LTE data is offered for only $50/month and on additional lines for only $30/month each.
Mint Mobile is another major T-mobile MVNO known for its extremely flexible pricing options. Founded in 2015 and now owned by actor Ryan Reynolds, Mint is considered by many users as the option that delivers the greatest value. Mint offers international calling to Canada and Mexico for free, making it a great option for consumers across North America.
Mint Mobile plans can be purchased for as low as $15/month when purchasing three months of service, and new customers already get three months free. Therefore, if you were to sign up for Mint Mobile today, you’d get up to six months of coverage for only $45. Mint customers also get unlimited talk and text alongside 5G/4G LTE speeds, depending on signal strength.
Virgin Mobile is a worldwide communications company and is the first MVNO, having been created back in 1999. Virgin Mobile operates on the 02 Network, which makes it a little different than other providers because it has greater international coverage that works outside of the United States.
Virgin Mobile’s Starter plan gives users 100 outgoing and unlimited incoming calls and 250 Mb of data for $15/month. For $32/month, Virgin customers get unlimited talk and text alongside pay-per-use data. Users who need more connectivity can get up to 40 Gb of data and unlimited minutes for $65/month.
Why Are MVNOs Cheaper?
The low price of an MVNO is largely attributed to the fact that MVNOs don’t have to maintain their own physical networks. Given that they lease their network bandwidth from larger providers, they don’t accrue the added overhead costs that go along with repairing equipment. However, MVNOs aren’t prioritized when accessing the network for the same reasons, resulting in stricter data caps and less connectivity in high-traffic areas.
The question becomes, are MVNOs worth it? The answer depends on what you’re looking for. In any case, MVNOs offer great value to customers who want flexible payment options and no-contract plans. Other MVNOs can be of great value, too. Google Fi, Cricket Wireless, and Republic Wireless, for instance, are just a few of the many startups leasing through the MVNO market. Still, because the MVNO space has become so crowded, it can be hard to find the deals that work best for you without putting in potentially more effort than it’s worth.
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