by Carlo Longino

How Not To Jumpstart Your MVNO

ESPN's virtual operator soft-launched in four markets today ahead of its full launch on Super Bowl Sunday in February, and you'd be forgiven for thinking they're not really very interested in getting many customers, since the one phone they're selling costs $500. Most MVNOs that have launched have been value-oriented, focusing on keeping costs low to keep prices low, and there's also been a good number of demographic-centered MVNOs, whether that group is age-based or something else. But the new breed of content-based MVNOs, like ESPN, are relatively unproven and their success still very much up in the air. Selling what's basically the most expensive consumer phone in the country doesn't seem like the best way to ensure that success.

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