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Understanding MVNOs: A Step by Step Guide for Canadians Choosing Small Carriers

Phones Canada is here to break down everything you need to know about MVNOs – Mobile Virtual Network Operators. If you’ve heard the term but aren’t quite sure what it means, or how it could benefit you, then keep on reading.

MVNOs are wireless providers that resell access to cell phone services on major wireless networks. They can offer similar services on more affordable plans compared to the big carriers. In the U.S., for example, plans offered by MVNOs are often cheaper and come with more features than those seen in the Canadian market.

In Canada, there are already several MVNOs in operation, though it seems that many customers are still unfamiliar with the concept. Canadians are known for paying high prices for cell phone data, despite having access to some of the fastest and most reliable networks globally. This need for affordable but reliable cell phone services is where MVNOs come in.

The acronym “MVNO” stands for Mobile Virtual Network Operator. These companies operate their own sales and customer service, but buy network service from major carriers like Bell, Rogers, and Telus at a wholesale rate. Some Canadian MVNOs you may have heard of include dotmobile, CityFone, 7-Eleven SpeakOut, and Petro-Canada Mobile.

MVNOs can offer lower prices because they have fewer overhead costs compared to major networks like Bell, Rogers, and Telus. We’re talking no need to own cell towers, complex networks, storefronts, and a smaller technical, sales, and customer support staff.
In 2022, the CRTC ruled that the three national networks and Sasktel must provide wholesale rates to all regional carriers. The intention behind the ruling is to allow regional carriers with their own cell towers and licensed wireless spectrum to expand their infrastructure.

To better understand which MVNOs have coverage near you, head over to our cell phone plan search tool. Input your address (or postal code for privacy) and we’ll show you carriers that have coverage in your area. Our tool also compares plans from more than a dozen wireless carriers on a single, easy-to-read page.

The world of MVNOs can seem complicated at first, especially with all the industry jargon. But if you keep the end goal in mind – lower prices and reliable cell phone services, the quest to find the right MVNO plan becomes much simpler.

We believe that making affordable cell phone plans accessible to everyone is essential.ourcemozillaRead More

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