Sprint Builds an MVNO Factory

Unhappy with your wireless provider? Become one! With Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s new Single Source Enablement platform, anyone can become a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) on a Sprint network in only a few short steps.

That's the crux of what the multi-network wireless operator is offering with its new pre-packaged MVNO platform, announced on Tuesday. Sprint says that "anyone from entrepreneurs to enterprises" can "deliver their own branded wireless service with as much or as little investment as they prefer." A Sprint spokesman says the package could be ideal for ILECs or CLECs that already offer a wireline service but want to enhance it with wireless.

Sprint says it will take care of the systems, processes, customer care, online Web enablement and warehousing and distribution services, leaving the MVNO to focus solely on acquiring customers. The carrier is also allowing its wholesale customers to ride whichever network they want -- CDMA, WiMax or Long Term Evolution (LTE), as well as price their service as they want with no restrictions on how data is doled out.

For those MVNOs that want more control over their business, Sprint also offers a standard enablement model, in which it solely leases the network, and a joint enablement model, in which the two work together.

Why this matters
As recent as a few years ago, MVNO was a dirty word in the wireless industry. Past attempts at wholesaling a wireless operator's network in the U.S. had failed to capture more than a niche audience. (Remember those "wireless operators" Disney, Amp'd and ESPN?) But there's been a resurgence of interest amongst startups with innovative, low-cost business models launching in the U.S. now. (See Mobile Mouse Shut Down, Amp'd Switches Off and ESPN May Beat MSOs to Market with Mobile.)

Sprint is definitely leading the MVNO charge, too. The carrier has proved to be a flexible partner, letting its wholesale customers launch on its LTE network at the same it launches its own service and allowing them to offer whatever pricing strategy they prefer, even when the pricing undercuts its own. So far, Sprint's signed up over 300 wholesale customers, including FreedomPop , Republic Wireless , Ting and others.

For more
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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