As if the US wireless market didn't have enough oddness to go on about, it's about to have another player, this time from the Far East. None other than China Telecom is planning to take the MVNO route into the country. China Telecom is one of the country's dominant telecommunications companies of course, but it is the smallest of the big three when it comes to mobile.
The idea, it seems, is to address the frequent travellers between the US and China who generally maintain separate phones for each. That hits close to home, since I am one of those travellers and the mobile phone situation has always been a pain. Users will apparently get one US line and one Chinese line, although details are still sketchy.
Since China Telecom operates a CDMA network on its own turf, their partner in the US is likely to have a similar technological underpinnings. That means probably either Sprint or Verizon, a choice they will make soon. I'm guessing Sprint is the one that would have the most to gain here.
The MVNO path is littered with large tombstones already, so it is rather unlikely to be easy. But on the other hand this is probably the only way China Telecom can enter the US market for now. The US government isn't likely to let them build or buy real infrastructure any time soon, let alone during an election year.
Can you imagine the chaos that would ensue, say, a bid for T-Mobile USA? LOLILECs, PTTs · Wireless