Steve Jobs Wanted Apple to Build Their Own Network Using Unlicensed Spectrum

Apple is a vertically integrated tech company. They create the hardware, software, applications, and provide digital content allowing them to control every aspect of the end-user experience–the whole widget.

There were exceptions, though. Like when Apple partnered with Motorola in 2004 to put iTunes content on mobile phones and Apple’s partnering with wireless carriers to host the iPhone– to name a few.

In 2007, Apple launched the iPhone and its partnership with Motorola ended. According to wireless industry legend John Stanton, Steve Jobs initially hoped to create his own network with unlicensed spectrum that would use Wi-Fi rather than work with carriers.

Steve Jobs with John Stanton, chairman of Trilogy Partners.

Speaking Monday at the Law Seminars International event in Seattle, Stanton, who is now chairman of venture capital firm Trilogy Partners, said that he met with Jobs between 2005 and 2007 to discuss the creation of a new network built on unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum.

“He wanted to replace carriers,” Stanton said of Jobs. The move would have given Apple the ability to manufacture the iPhone as well as control the service that supported the device.

This obsession with replacing carriers lasted until 2007, when Jobs ultimately dropped the idea, however he still managed to have a huge impact on wireless operators that craved the iPhone. Most recently, Sprint made a $20 billion four-year deal with Apple to sell the iPhone.