Buyers Guide to MVNO Service

Some people might be wondering, what is MVNO service? An MVNO is a mobile virtual network operator, a wireless service provider, that does not own its own infrastructure. Essentially what that means is that these wireless service providers do not own their own cell towers. Instead, an MVNO licenses network access to cell towers from a different cell phone carrier. Generally, a MVNO is able to license network access at a wholesale rate, and then can turn around and re-sell the access to their customers via their own billing system, marketing, and employees.

One of the biggest differences that you’ll see between an MVNO service and a traditional service from a tier-one carrier is that MVNO services are paid ahead of time. What this means is that you’ll pay for your services ahead of time, instead of being billed for your usage later. While an MVNO plan may resemble a traditional plan including minutes, messages, and data, there are going to be subtle difference between an MVNO plan and that of established major carriers.

Target Audience

Over time, both prepaid cell phones and MVNO customers have continually been able to get more bang for their buck, due to new features or initiatives that are offered by each service provider, such as using your own apple unlocked iPhone. While MVNOs are not targeted at a specific audience, there are a few features that come with the service that might appeal to a target audience.

Below is a list of a few of the reasons why you should consider an MVNO for your cell phone needs. This list is not exclusive or exhaustive. If any of these items sound like you, perhaps you’ll consider switching to an MVNO and give it a try!

  • Not loyal to a specific phone brand
  • Already own an unlocked cell phone
  • Able to troubleshoot on your own, don’t require the assistance of a retail store for tech support
  • Don’t make or receive many calls
  • Don’t use a lot of data (preferable 5GB or less per month)
  • Have access to Wi-Fi on a regular basis
  • Aren’t worried about data speeds
  • Don’t travel to other countries

Familiar Names

A lot of MNVO’s advertise on TV and in print, which means that you’ve probably heard of some of the carriers but didn’t know that they are MVNO’s! Some of the more popular ones include MetroPCS, Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless, and TracFone. Each one of these carriers operates independently, but rely on the towers established by the four major cell phone companies.

Other reputable MVNO carriers that you are probably familiar with include Virgin Mobile, Net10, Straight Talk, and Consumer Cellular. With quite a few MVNO brands available on the U.S. Market, each one is slightly different from another. If you are thinking about making the switch to an MVNO carrier, be sure to do your research and find the one that works best in your area and offers the features that you are looking for.


Some carriers, such as Republic Wireless, Ting, and TracFone provide their customers with control over their talk, text, and data needs. With these carriers it is possible to specifically design a rate plan with each of the three criteria. Get the exact plan that you want that is customized to your needs.


For some consumers, MVNOs are great options, but for others the limitations and drawbacks could completely rule them out. If you are interested in going with a family plan, you’ll want to stick with a tier-one carrier. Other things that you’ll want to think about before switching to an MVNO carrier include, are you allowed to bring your own apple unlocked iPhone or do you have to purchase a new one through them? If you are allowed to bring your own device, does their network support the brand and network of phone that you have? The most important thing that you’ll need to consider before switching service providers is if there is coverage in your area. No matter how good of a deal they offer, it won’t be worth it if you do not have service in your area!

If you are switching to a MVNO carrier, and want to bring your own device with you, check out the wide selection of unlocked and carrier specific cell phones available from Green Cells! You’ll be able to save money on your device and your new phone plan! Don’t wait to find the phone you want to go along with your new plan, check out Green Cells today!