What is a MVNO?

27 June 2017

What is a MVNO?

We all know that there are the big four carriers: Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile.  And then there are the smaller cell phone carriers: far too many to list right here. The difference? The big ones own their own towers and the smaller ones buy service from these big guys in bulk, re-selling to us at a much cheaper price.
Flock of Seagulls
You could actually save all the money you save when you compare and switch cell phone carriers.

This is what a MVNO carrier is, in a nutshell. Smaller carriers are cropping up all over the place. This is because it seems to work out well for anyone who wants to save money on their cell phone plan, not to mention the other benefits like no credit check, no contracts, and customizable plan options. Additionally, MVNOs are pretty good about you bringing your own phone. As long as your phone works with the big carrier that the MVNO operates on, you should be up and running with your service without issue.


This stands for Mobile Virtual Network Operator. When we refer to a MVNO as an option for a cell phone carrier, know that these MVNOs are still operating on major cell towers, just in a different, more-affordable-to-you kind of way. You'll see MVNOs mentioned plenty of times here on WhistleOut!

How are MVNOs cheaper?

MVNOs don't have the kind of advertising budget or overheads that the big carriers have. They are harder to find since they're not on heavy ad spot rotation on your Spotify, YouTube ad, or TV. So if you're just now learning about the little carriers that CAN, don't worry, you're not alone. MVNOs are quickly becoming a smarter, budget-friendly way to enjoy the very same service you're getting right now from a major carrier.

Usually, MVNOs don't supply handsets. This means that they have even less of a reason to charge you more money. If you own your phone outright from one of your bigger carriers, you can waltz right into a MVNO who runs on your old BIG carrier and just set it up. Your rates will be much cheaper. 

What you should do right this second

Whether you're on a big carrier or not, comparing, switching, and saving money from any cell phone plan is good for you, the consumer, and competition within the cell phone carrier industry. This means that everyone will be competing for your business. So why not make them work for it? 

This is where you begin comparing cell phone plans, even if you're not exactly ready to make the move. Stay informed about the differences between big and small carriers. Why do you stay with a big carrier? How much could you in fact save by staying on  that big network but moving to a MVNO? These are questions you should ask every time you see that money leave your bank account! 

Who is on your network?

Here are all of the MVNOs and the networks they are on. If you're already on a network you enjoy and want to bring you phone on over to them, start by comparing the MVNOs on that specific network. It is easier than you think. 

Note: some of the MVNO suppliers resell services on multiple networks, so you will see them listed several times. Suppliers with links can be included in a  WhistleOut price comparison.

MVNOs on Sprint Network

See more deals with Sprint!

MVNOs on T-Mobile Network

See more deals with T-Mobile!


Net10 Wireless

Ultra Mobile


Simple Mobile

The People's Operator

Project Fi

Mint SIM


Red Pocket Mobile

Speedtalk Mobile

Walmart Family Mobile

Consumer Cellular

MVNOs on Verizon Network

See more deals with Verizon!

Net10 Wireless

Page Plus

Total Wireless

ROK Mobile

Straight Talk

Credo Mobile




Red Pocket Mobile

Selectel Wireless

Ready Mobile

Expo Mobile

Flash Wireless

MVNOs on AT&T Network

See more deals with AT&T!


Straight Talk


H20 Wireless

Net10 Wireless


Consumer Cellular

Red Pocket Mobile

Good2Go Mobile

420 Wireless

MVNOs on U.S. Cellular Network

See more deals with U.S. Cellular

Have we missed anyone you'd like us to include? Let us know in the comments below and we'll update this article as soon as we can.

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