Why Europe's Mobile Startups Sing

MVNOs are mobile operators that lease space on other carriers' networks. In the U.S., they seem to miss the part about no-frills, low-cost service

In 2000, Danish entrepreneur Frank Rasmussen raised $1 million to launch a discount mobile-phone company called Telmore. It was one of a new breed of companies, called mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), that lease space on networks operated by other carriers, rather than owning their own infrastructure. Perhaps the best-known MVNO in the world is Virgin Mobile.

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