Steve Jobs, wireless network operator? Apple’s co-founder talked to industry legend John Stanton from 2005 through 2007 about the possibility of setting up a wireless network that would use unlicensed spectrum, according to remarks Stanton made at a conference Monday.
IDG News Service reported that Stanton told attendees at the Law Seminars International event in Seattle that Jobs “wanted to replace carriers” by setting up his own network using the same wireless spectrum used by Wi-Fi devices, which is not subject to a government license and is also used by things like cordless landline phones and baby monitors. Stanton didn’t elaborate on whether or not the idea ever made it past the drawing-board stage (it was abandoned in 2007), or whether it would even be possible, but noted that Jobs was keen on the idea just as Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) was getting ready to launch the iPhone.
Apple initially hoped to create an experience as free from carrier interference as possible, but was forced to play ball with the traditional carrier model of phone subsidies and two-year contracts after it became clear that iPhone demand was much stronger at lower price points than the original $599. It did manage to break the carrier stranglehold on software applications that connect to wireless networks to great effect, however.
More than a few mobile industry members have wondered over the years why Apple didn’t consider the MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) route, along the lines of Virgin Mobile (NYSE: VM), in order to offer wireless services without having to build and maintain a wireless network. The company filed for patents along those lines, but obviously never launched anything.
At this point, such a move might raise an eyebrow or two among government regulators, especially if Apple were to require that you use its wireless service to purchase its phone.