Dec 22nd, 2012 publishUpdated   Feb 23rd, 2015, 12:55 pm

Major carriers have something to worry about – MVNOs. Mobile virtual network operators are those smaller carriers that don’t own networks, but are licensed to use other carriers’ networks to offer cellular services. Such service providers can offer much more affordable prices without contracts, but there are still incentives to sign your life away to a major carrier.

MVNOs have become very popular among smartphone users as devices start becoming more affordable. One can purchase a Nexus 4 for as low as $300, for example. This device is far superior to other equally-priced smartphones, and arguably better than even some that double its price. You can take this (or any other compatible device) to a GSM MVNO and just use the big carrier networks with small carrier prices. Or you can opt to buy their own devices, if you would rather make the process easier or the carrier uses a CDMA network.

These small carriers tend to offer great deals. They do have to pay fees to network owners, but they also don’t have to invest in improving networks and keeping towers up-to-date. You can save up to thousands of dollars per year if you opt for one of these pre-paid options.

But with all these great and affordable options, why are we sticking with major manufacturers? Well, there are many benefits, the main one being convenience. Though we end up paying more in the long run, there are many benefits to being with one of the big 4.

For one, it is possible to sign a contract and get a phone at a much discounted price. Most users don’t have $600 to $700 to pull out and spend on a good, high-end device out-of-contract. And the good devices you can find at a lower price can be rare. The most expensive on-contract devices cost around $300, which is much easier to swallow.

Major carriers also tend to be more reliable in terms of customer service. Of course, they have the resources to help out more… even if you have to sign your wallet away for 2 years. Not to mention they usually carry the best devices, but that is starting to change.

Hey! There is also the option of going prepaid with one of the 4 major carriers. T-Mobile has some great deals for prepaid customers, an all other carriers have prepaid options. Or maybe you are no longer in contract, but want to keep your older plan (mostly unlimited data customers’ situation).

With all of this in mind, we are wondering at what point MVNOs are. More and more Android users are starting to opt for prepaid MVNO carriers like Straight Talk, Solavei, Virgin Mobile, Boost Mobile and many others. Our audience consists mostly of Android users (of course) so it would give us a great idea of how the market between MVNO and major carrier customers is.

Please participate in the poll and give us your two cents! Do you prefer staying with a traditional carrier or have you moved on to a more flexible mobile world? And why?

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