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LightYear On The FCC List of “U.S. Mobile Wireless Resellers and MVNOs”

August 12, 2010

If you are not familiar with the “MVNO” acronym, it stands for “Mobile Virtual Network Operator.”  Here’s the critical distinction:  ACN (and almost all other MLM wireless companies) is a “RESELLER” (i.e., middleman), while LightYear is a “WHOLESALER” (an MVNO, controlling their customers and setting their own pricing, paying a wholesale price to use an existing network backbone from Verizon, Sprint, etc.).  The difference is dramatic, since a wholesaler can create massive margins while a reseller can only markup existing prices, leaving little room for margin.  A couple quotes from the site that called LightYear “The Next Billion Dollar MLM Telecommunication Company” will help explain it further:

  • Lightyear is a fully federally licensed telecommunication company. Now, this is HUGE for the Lightyear distributors. Unlike so many of the newly launched MLM wireless services, Lightyear OWNS their customers. They are not a reseller, or dealer for another telecommunication company.”
  • They buy wholesale space from two of the most respected Teir 1 provider companies in the wireless space, Sprint (for the Lightyear Pre-paid) and Verizon (for the post-paid Lightyear cell service.)  … In other words, Lightyear markets, sells, ships, bills, collects, and supports their own customers. Sprint and Verizon DO NOT handle any of the Lightyear customers, nor do they have any or their records.”

So we are VERY different from almost ALL other MLMs in the cellphone biz, since they’re a middleman reseller and we’re an MVNO wholesaler.  Resellers simply mark up whatever prices are already in place, leaving little space for rep commissions.  That’s why everyone familiar with most MLM wireless companies thinks there’s no margin for MLMs in the wireless business.  We set our prices, and there’s plenty of margin for reps to make good money.

The article at introducing the list below points out that, “CTIA spokeswoman Amy Storey noted that while the FCC counts 60 MVNOs in operation in the United States, the trade association’s research department only found around 45 to be active.”  We can identify a few of the companies below as inactive, such as the direct seller (network marketing company) Liberty Wireless, the parent of “Wow Mobile” which ceased operations last month. On that same note, I don’t see any other MLM Wireless company listed, which validates LightYear’s stake as the only real player in the MLM Wireless world (“Lightyear Wireless: The Next Billion Dollar MLM Telecommunication Company.”).  Look for any other direct sales company below:  ACN, FHTM, Global Verge, YooTalk, Zoom Mobile … they’re not on it.  One other interesting thing about the list is how many little local businesses are on it, as well as complete outsiders:  who is buying cell service at 7-11?  Most of the “competition” below is not national and not in the industry, posing no real threat to LightYear.  These were the kind of things I was concerned about before joining LightYear.

It takes a lot of money to run an effective wireless operation, which sets the barrier-to-entry very high.  LightYear’s publicly-traded parent company, with a market cap of $100+ million, gives them a humongous advantage that puts them LightYears ahead of the competition, making it nearly impossible for other direct sellers to copy them.

U.S. mobile and wireless resellers and MVNOs

Name, (Number of subscribers*)

7-11 Speak Out
Advanced Communications Technology
Air Voice Wireless AT&T
AirLink Mobile
Albany Mutual Tel. Association;
Beaver Creek Cooperative Telephone Company
Beyond Mobile (50,203)
Bratz Mobile
Camellia Communications
CenCom, Inc.
Christensen Communications
Circle K Stores Inc
Consolidated Communications Network, Inc. (More than 20,000)
Consumer Cellular, Inc
Credo Mobile, Inc.
DFT Local Service Corporation
eCall Plus
Firefly Communications, Inc.
Garden Valley Telephone Co.
Germantown Cellular
Hawaiian Telcom Services Company, Inc.
Hayneville Telephone Company, Inc.
Home TeleNetworks
Hood Canal
Kennebec Telephone Co.
Lakedale Telephone Company
Liberty Wireless
Lightyear Network Solutions, LLC (More than 60,000)
Locus Telecommunications (More than 300,000)
Nehalem TeleCommunications, Inc.
New Ulm Telecom
One Communications Corp. (More than 160,000 businesses)
Otter Tail Telcom
Page Plus Cellular
PemTel Wireless
Pend Oreille Telephone Company
PlatinumTel Wireless
Randolph Telephone Company
Red River Rural Telephone Association
Sleepy Eye Telephone Company
STI Mobile
Total Call Mobile
Tracfone (14.4 million as of Dec. 2009)
Tuyo Mobile
Venture Communications Coop.
Virgin Mobile USA
Winn Telephone Company
Yadkin Valley Telephone
Zapp Unlimited LLC
Zone Telecom, Inc.


Source: FCC (PDF, page 236)
*total customers as of 12/31/09

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