While some of the big mobile carriers are trying to curb the traffic on their networks, it seems that Sprint is trying to get even more people on board. Sprint recently unveiled a push to get a variety of different companies – from airlines to supermarkets – to set up white labeled mobile services on its network. These white label offerings, called Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) in the telecommunications business, would run on Sprint’s network but would be branded as, say, Hilton Mobile or Safeway Mobile. A couple of MVNOs that you might already be familiar with include Virgin Mobile, Boost Mobile and Gamestop Mobile.
Sprint’s thinking is that these branded MVNO services would make a great addition to existing loyalty programs. Imagine, for instance, that you could earn airline miles for every megabyte of data you download on your US Airways Mobile Device? Or conversely, US Airways could offer all its platinum members a free device pre-loaded with a certain amount of mobile data or talk time. From a marketing perspective this could be a goldmine.
But what about the data loads on Sprint’s network? Sprint is one of the few networks still offering truly unlimited data plans. But could a host of new MVNOs eventually put too much of a strain on the network? One possibility is that Sprint would divide out its 4G WiMax network and open that up to the MVNOs while it reserves capacity on its newer 4G LTE network for its own brand. That would be a great use of the WiMax network that would otherwise prove to have been a relatively short-term investment for the company.
For more details on the news, check out this Businessweek story here.