It looks like Apple could be the latest big name in tech to get into the mobile network business.
A new report claims that the Cupertino company is already trying out such a service in the U.S. and could soon be giving things a go in Europe too.
So, what do we know so far? Will it be the latest move towards MVNOs becoming go–to options over the soon–to–be big three networks?
Read on and we’ll tell you everything you need to know.
1 Apple SIM only
The idea behind an Apple MVNO is simple. Cupertino will offer a so–called Apple SIM, which users will be able to pick up when they buy an iPhone.
This would then offer consumers the chance to connect to an Apple–backed network and purchase contracts and data bundles directly from their phones, essentially cutting out the networks for good.
2 Multiple networks
The sources who have revealed Apple’s plans have suggested this will be a huge operation, using multiple networks.
MVNOs tend to utilise one particular network, with BT using EE and Tesco using O2 for example.
Apple is apparently in talks with major networks across America and Europe about a service which would let them work with everyone.
That would mean users would hop seamlessly from one network to the next on an Apple MVNO, depending on which carrier offered the best signal.
3 iCloud Voicemail essential
Alongside rumours of an Apple MVNO, talk has also emerged of a new iCloud Voicemail tool, with Siri answering calls and transcribing messages.
This will be an essential part of an Apple network, with carriers themselves handling voicemails at the moment.
If they can get around users having to call networks to access voice messages, they’ll have solved a major issue with MVNOs and have fixed one of mobile’s most average experiences.
iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 users will already be aware of the Apple SIM which the company offers to owners of its 4G–packing tablets.
This allows seamless switching between data contracts without having to go to the network for a new SIM. It seems this service is an outlier for any future Apple MVNO.
5 No launch for a long time
There’s one huge caveat to all of this. The insiders spilling the beans say it could be years until an Apple MVNO launches.
Perhaps even as far away as 2020 for a full rollout.
The exact reasons aren’t clear, but it’s likely Apple wants to tread lightly and not upset the networks, who are already being squeezed by the boom in MVNOs and quad–play packages in this country.
However, it all seems inevitable what with Apple’s history of wanting to control its entire smartphone ecosystem. Cutting out networks is the final piece of the jigsaw.