In a remarkable stride forward, Murena, the French startup renowned for its “de-Googled” smartphones, is now diving into the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) arena. This move is part of Murena’s continued effort to cater to privacy-conscious consumers, offering an own-brand mobile network exclusively in the U.S.
Murena Mobile, the new venture, is leveraging T-Mobile’s infrastructure to present a range of plans for U.S. customers. These span from a 4GB data package at $35 per month to an unlimited data plan for $65. All plans include unlimited calls and texts, providing a competitive edge in the bustling MVNO market.
This expansion comes at a time when technology advancements have simplified the process of becoming an MVNO. Innovations in mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) software and the growing popularity of eSIM technology are reshaping the landscape, allowing companies like Murena to offer digital distribution strategies more cost-effectively.
Murena’s foray into the $84 billion MVNO realm is grounded in its commitment to privacy. Founded in 2018, Murena has developed /e/OS, its own operating system based on the Android fork, LineageOS. Available pre-installed on various smartphones, including refurbished models like Google’s Pixel 5 and Fairphone, /e/OS is a testament to Murena’s privacy-first approach. The OS replaces standard Google apps with open-source or privacy-focused alternatives, reinforcing the company’s dedication to user data protection.
Besides hardware, Murena has been monetizing through value-added services like cloud plans, resembling Google Workspace, offering email and productivity tools that sync across devices. The introduction of Murena Mobile adds a new dimension to their revenue streams and customer engagement.
Murena’s COO, Alexis Noetinger, highlights the strategic importance of this move. By launching Murena as an MVNO, the company not only bolsters financial stability but also aligns closely with its mission of offering privacy-centered solutions. This initiative mirrors the efforts of U.S. minimalist phone maker Light, which transitioned to a new MVNE provider, Gigs – a company positioning itself as the “Stripe for phone plans”.
However, Murena’s venture isn’t without challenges. Currently, the eSIM format, the backbone of Murena Mobile, isn’t universally supported, including on some devices sold by Murena. Additionally, the process to sign up for a Murena Mobile plan is separate from purchasing a compatible device, a hurdle the company plans to overcome by 2024.
Despite these initial obstacles, Murena’s vision is clear. By offering an integrated solution for those prioritizing privacy, the company aims to establish a comprehensive package – a synergy of smartphone, cloud, and mobile plans. This strategic bundling is poised to make Murena a more compelling choice for consumers seeking a cohesive, privacy-focused digital experience.
In conclusion, Murena’s entrance into the MVNO market is more than just a business expansion; it’s a statement of its commitment to privacy and innovation. As the company plans to extend its mobile plans to Europe in 2024 and refine its offerings, Murena stands at the forefront of a movement that prioritizes user privacy in an increasingly interconnected world.