(pronounced as separate letters) Short for mobile virtual network operator
, a mobile service operator that does not have its own licensed spectrum and does not have the infrastructure to provide mobile service to its customers (i.e., it does not own the network
on which its voice and data traffic is carried). Instead, MVNOs lease wireless capacity from pre-existing mobile service providers and establish their own brand names different from the providers. For example, Virgin MobileUSA (the first American MVNO) uses Sprint as its underlying carrier, Page Plus uses Verizon, EZ Link Plus uses Cingular, and Air Voice Wireless uses AT&T.
MVNOs typically offer subscription-based voice and data service, and the customers are not doing business with underlying wireless provider but with the MVNO brand.