Apple is in talks with carriers in the US and Europe to launch its own MVNO service, sources close to Apple tell Business Insider. That’s a huge step toward Apple becoming a carrier, as an MVNO is essentially a virtual carrier that doesn’t spend money on building its own network but negotiates access to existing networks at wholesale prices and then retails it independently to its customers.
What this means is that your monthly cellular bill won’t come from a regular cellphone provider, but directly from Apple, which will offer you everything you previously got from your regional or national carrier.
The first take on carriers was the Apple SIM — currently limited to the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 — which allows customers to switch networks and take the best offer without the hassle of getting a SIM card directly from the carrier. Rumour has it that the Apple SIM will be available on iPhones as well, but sources couldn’t give any time estimate.
As for Apple’s carrier plans, telecom sources say they may take up to five years to materialize. Meanwhile, Apple is allegedly working on iCloud Voicemail, which will take away another service from carriers, so there are strong signs toward the company’s carrier plans.
Besides the above rumours, there are Apple’s patents for an MVNO service, which date back to 2006. As TechCrunch points out, the company has filed to extend that patent.