Rumors are swirling today that yet another mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) — Sonopia — has bit the dust. Not so, says CEO Juha Christensen, a wireless industry veteran known for developing Symbian, the world’s most popular operating system for smartphones. “Sonopia has laid off some of its employees, but is still here… ,” he told me in an e-mail. In fact, the company is currently in discussions to expand into Europe, where MVNOs seem to fare better than in the U.S.
I would certainly be sorry to see Sonopia go, as the company has such an interesting business model: It lets anyone, be it a high-school football team or a large family, to start their own wireless service. As a service provider, you get your own-branded phones, customized content — and even a percentage of your subscribers’ fees. But, clearly, MVNOs aren’t in vogue right now. And the economic environment is making life for innovative companies like Sonopia even harder.