Several cell phone providers in the United States operate as mobile virtual network operators. MVNOs do not own their own section of radio spectrum or own the infrastructure, such as cell towers, to operate a mobile phone service, but rent the necessary equipment from larger providers. Verizon owns an extensive nation-wide mobile network that is utilized by several MVNOs.
Page Plus Cellular, an MVNO based in Toledo, Ohio, is solely a Verizon-based operator. Page Plus offers several pay-as-you-go plans, as well as some prepaid plans. Since Page Plus only uses Verizon’s network, all Verizon phones are potentially compatible with the Page Plus network. Most Verizon phones are allowed on the network, and many of them work with minor changes to the network settings.
Verizon and Sprint-Based Networks
Some MVNOs utilize the compatibility between the Verizon and Sprint national networks. Both national networks operate on similar CDMA frequencies, and many CDMA-based phones can utilize the frequencies used by both carriers. These MVNOs program the phones they sell to switch from one network to the other as one network becomes unavailable or congested. The MVNOs that use both Verizon and Sprint networks are Shaka Mobile, CloseCall America, Jitterbug and Lucky Wireless.
AT&T and Verizon-Based Networks
Some MVNOs use AT&T’s mobile network along with Verizon’s to provide service to their customers. H20 Wireless, owned by Locus Mobile, operates two MVNOs — one utilizing Verizon’s CDMA network and one utilizing AT&T’s GSM-based network. Since the networks are not cross-compatible, H2O allows customers to choose which network they would like to use.
Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile-Based Networks
Tracfone Wireless is the largest MVNO in the United States and sells both GSM and CDMA phones that utilize three major networks: Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. Through the Straight Talk service plan, Tracfone sells phones that work on one of the three mentioned networks. None of the phones are cross-network compatible, and each relies on the service areas of their individual networks.