Remember Helio? It was EarthLink's joint venture MVNO with SK Telecom. It sold to Virgin Mobile USA with less than 200K subs for $39M in equity (no cash, all stock). Sprint bought Virgin Mobile USA in 2009. Disney had an MVNO that failed around the same time, too.
TracFone is owned by America Movil, "leasing space from AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and T-Mobile, among others." TracFone just bought out T-Mobile's MVNO, Simple Mobile.
UltraMobile is about to launch as an MVNO on T-Mobile. 1GB of data for $49, including talk and text. Roaming and cell-to-wireline calls are usually extra on MVNO plans.
Another MVNO on the T-Mobile network is trying the MLM approach. "Solavei is making its official debut Friday, already armed with 25,000 customers ready to spread the word about its unlimited, social network-driven mobile service on T-Mobile USA 's network." It uses T-Mobile USA's HPSA+ network and unlocked GSM phones (swap out SIM card). "The mobile virtual network operator (MVNO)'s contract-free service shakes up the business model for mobile, rewarding subscribers with cash for each additional subscriber they recruit to the service. After a $49 sign-up fee, subscribers pay a flat fee of $49 per month for unlimited data on any unlocked GSM phone, while racking up money if they choose to bring more people on board," writes Light Reading.
They aren't alone in this space: Lightyear Wireless sells this way and WOW (not the cable guys). MLM is seen as a way to keep marketing and customer acquisition costs down or at least fixed.
There are other MVNO's out there besides these, Ting and Republic Wireless - all trying to come up with an angle.
EarthLink is back in the MVNO mix with a new deal with Clearwire for 4G. I wonder if they get that in WiMax or LTE flavor?
Accel Networks is just a reseller of 4G data on the big 3 networks. And there a number of companies that resell 3G/4G for broadband backup.