MNVOs (Mobile Network Virtual Operators) cellphone plans are rapidly increasing in popularity in the United States as people look for ways to save on bills each month. Still, a lot remains unknown about the pros and cons with them. This is what you should know prior to switching cellphone service over to one of these plans.
There are many benefits to using an Mobile Network Virtual Operation, commonly abbreviated as MNVO, as opposed to one of the “big four” carriers in the United States. Saving money, being able to use the same phone across multiple networks, and being able to bring the phone on international travel are some major advantages of using an unlocked phone with an MNVO. For the purposes of this article, we will look at GSM phones, due to the simplicity of only needing to swap out the SIM card, and the fact that is the most common type of network found outside the United States.
There are marked differences between the American and European models of cell phone plans. Americans typically pay a monthly fee for cell phone service which includes a monthly price for the phone. In most European countries, however, the phone is paid in full upfront, with the customer only paying for the services used during the month. Overall, this is a cheaper method, since one does not have to stay in an overpriced plan for a year or two. To have the truly European experience while using these types of plans, an unlocked GSM phone is required. CDMA phones can be unlocked to use other CDMA networks, too, although a bit more work is required other than swapping out a SIM card because this typically involves contacting the MNVO of interest to see if the phone is supported on the network of interest.
One of the major advantages is being able to use one phone with different networks. This way, all of the data on the phone, such as contacts, text messages, and photos can be retained across networks. For example, if one plan has unlimited talk and text while another has a good data rate, then all a person would have to do is swap out the SIM card to use the appropriate plan. For example, love T-Mobile’s prices, but hate the coverage? With an unlocked phone, one can easily switch to an MNVO using AT&T’s coverage. It’s as simple as switching out the SIM card in an unlocked phone. Some phone companies are making this even easier by offering dual SIM versions of phones, so no powering down the phone is required in order to use a different SIM card.
There are some downsides, however. If one is having problems with their service on T-Mobile or AT&T, they can just stop in at a retail kiosk and speak to someone about their issue, and usually get the problem solved right then and there. If on a MNVO such as Lycamobile or Airvoice, that person would have to go through the carrier’s website in order to get support which would take a bit longer.
Another downside would be not having the same access to the network as the subscribers directly using the parent network. Some MNVOs do not allowing roaming onto another network, while the subscribers that get access to the network directly from the network are allowed this option. Also, during heavy traffic periods, MNVO users may be shut out of the network while the users who subscribe directly to the network are given preference.
It’s always a good idea to look at usage patterns and budget when deciding a cell phone plan.These factors will influence what would be the best type of plan for one’s buck.