August 14, 2012

RadioShack Rumored To Become Its Own MVNO Wireless Carrier

Michael Harper for - Your Universe Online

For years, RadioShack was the place for hackers and tinkerers alike to pick up their electronic batteries, kick knacks, wires and soldering guns. In recent years, the company has gone through some changes in an effort to remain relevant to a generation who would rather buy a component than make one. Now, RadioShack has become a bit of a wireless retailer, offering many of the latest and newest in handsets from multiple carriers.

If rumors from this weekend are true, The Shack could be prepared to take these mobile offerings one step further by becoming their own MVNO wireless carrier.

The team at Engadget received a tip this weekend which suggests the electronics retailer could be gearing up to launch something called RadioShack Mobile, a no-contract MVNO (or mobile virtual network operator) based on pre-paid carrier Cricket Wireless.

Engadget has posted several screenshots from RadioShack screens which suggest a HTC One V phone available for RadioShack Mobile. Another screen shot lists a full description of the RadioShack Mobile ready HTC One V, which promises “one of the best operating systems currently on the market“¦without the added cost of an annual contract.”

As for RadioShack No Contract Wireless, these screenshots promise “Low monthly rates,” and “a choice of plans that feature nationwide coverage with no contracts.”

The rest of the screen describes your basic, run of the mill pre-paid account, allowing for payment by cash, check, or card, payable at any RadioShack location. The service also promises to send text messages to users who are nearing the end of their payment cycle.

Under a section labeled “Getting Started,” the screens only say, “Activate at your local RadioShack store” or by calling a toll-free number. According to Engadget, this number goes directly to the customer support line at Cricket Wireless.

Though these screenshots don´t offer many details about the service, Engadget has heard that the RadioShack Mobile offerings will be similar to those found at Cricket Wireless. Furthermore, RadioShack is also expected to carry some Huawei phones as a part of their alleged pre-paid MVNO, as well as a 4.3-inch Android phone from Alcatel. When contacted for a statement, RadioShack said they don´t comment on rumors or speculation.

There have been many rumors to surface in the days since, but in May of this year, Apple was also rumored to offer their own MVNO.

According to a report from BGR, an industry strategist said Apple would begin offering wireless coverage to their iPads and iPhones directly, removing the middlemen carriers. This strategist even went so far as to say Apple would be the first mover, catching everyone off guard.

Google will have to scramble because it lacks retail distribution, experience with subscriber services and the iTunes ecosystem of content. iTunes and the iTunes Store provide Apple with one-click buying and customer care. Google can acquire most of these capabilities, as it has before, but it is not a core competency of the company, said Whitey Bluestein, industry strategist.

Only time will tell if Apple or RadioShack will begin offering their own MVNO in the near future.