We all know that there are a few cell phone networks to choose from these days. If someone said to you that you should consider setting one yourself, you might respond with laughter! After all, such a suggestion seems quite ridiculous, don’t you think?

It turns out that you might not have the last laugh, after all! It’s easier to set up a branded mobile network in 2015 than it was 20 or so years ago! At first reflection, you might think that you will need millions to set up a brand new mobile network.

I’m here today to tell you that’s not always the case. Intrigued? Keep reading to find out how you can set up a branded cell phone network!


Image Credit

Set up in business as an MVNO

In case you wondered, the acronym MVNO stands for “Mobile Virtual Network Operator.” An MVNO will use the infrastructure of an MNO (“Mobile Network Operator”). For example, in the UK, Virgin Mobile is an MVNO, who uses EE, an MNO.

Confused? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! The telecommunications world is full of acronyms! In layman’s terms, mobile networks license their infrastructure to other companies. That includes things like telephone masts and control centers.

The “virtual” network operators can then offer a branded service. To consumers, they are just another mobile network. But, in reality, they are using the infrastructure provided by another mobile network (an MNO).

To set up a new mobile network from scratch can cost millions – if not billions of dollars! That’s why it’s more cost-effective to piggyback onto someone else’s network!


When you negotiate a deal with an MNO, you will need to start branding your new mobile network. That means setting up a website, social media profiles and embarking on a marketing campaign.

Significant investment will need to get made into marketing. That’s because MNOs need a minimum amount of subscribers to use their service.

SIM cards

All GSM networks need mobile phones to use SIM cards. These are the little chips that you slot inside your cell phone and enable it to “talk” to the mobile network. So, how can get SIM cards for your network?

Workz SIM card printing can sort that problem out for you. I’d recommend checking if there are other SIM card makers near to your location. That’s because international shipping costs can sometimes be high.


You will want to bill your customers for the airtime, text messages and data they use. To make this happen, you need to use a mobile virtual network “aggregator.” An MVNA takes care of the billing systems and customer support systems you need.

Companies like Comverse offer such solutions for virtual network operators. Getting a third party to help you with this will cost less than having a bespoke system made for you from scratch.


Finally, there is the investment factor you need to think about. The amount of money you put in will depend on many different factors. It’s hard to put a rough figure down as it depends on:

  • Which MNO you approach;
  • What their minimum requirements are;
  • What the terms of their licensing deals are.

For such an enterprise, you will doubtless need financial backing from many investors.