Meet GSM Nation, an MVNO selling any smartphone you desire
By Kevin Fitchard June 15, 2012
GSM Nation has spent the past two years selling unlocked smartphones through its online retail portal, and in the process it has steered tens of thousands of customers toward contract-free voice and data plans offered by the newly emerging class of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). GSM Nation CEO and co-founder Ahmed Khattak, however, is getting tired of handing off the potentially lucrative service business. So this fall GSM Nation plans to launch its own MVNO.
For those unfamiliar, an MVNO is a sans-network operator that resells the data and voice services of a major carrier. What will set GSM Nation apart from the growing hordes of MVNOs popping up on AT&T's and T-Mobiles' networks is its own already highly developed retail business. It's not quite Amazon or Best Buy, but it sells more than200 different models of unlocked smartphones and tablets on its website, all of which are sourced directly from manufacturers or global distributors. It buys its iPhones from a reseller in Korea and imports Samsung Galaxy phones from Latin America.
"No other MVNO has these types of relationships," Khattak said. Typically an MVNO will source a handful of new or refurbished smartphones from manufacturers or resellers, but for high-end devices like the iPhone it only supplies SIM cards and relies on customers to bring their own handset, he added. "We will be the first MVNO to sell high-end unlocked handsets straight from the manufacturer," Khattak said.
Lots of data and a modicum of voice
GSM Nation has decided to partner with T-Mobile, tapping into the operator's high-bandwidth HSPA+ networks and possibly even its future LTE network. Those data speeds are of particular importance to the company because it plans to target more-sophisticated users who live for their data services and spend relatively little time talking on their phones.