MVNOs have been tried by major brands like ESPN and Disney. ISPs have attempted to extend into wireless service like Earthlink and Time Warner. All these efforts meeting with eventual or dazzling failure.
Then there are the regional carriers like MetroPCS and Cricket who attract subscribers with low cost unlimited talk time. But what about a utility holding company? Can a group of power companies be successful where major brands and ISPs have failed?
Southern Linc began as an operation to by wholesale wireless service to support the employees of Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power and Mississippi Power using the iDen network (Nextel) and it’s two-way radio communications also known as chirp and push-to-talk. In the mid1990sSouthern Company who owns these electric companies established it’s own wireless service as a move to create profit in what is for many companies a cost center: employee communications services.
Southern Linc supported its own employees and also made the service available to other businesses starting in 1996. Recently, the company has extended its service beyond push-to-talk plans to include cell phone and texting for consumers. The company plans to grow its 260,000 subscriber base covering southeast Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Florida Panhandle by offering service to rural areas not serviced by the Tier 1 and Tier 2 carriers.
Regional coverage has been one focus for wireless carriers meeting with more mixed results than the disasters of ESPN, Amp’d and Disney. Southern Linc provides all the basic wireless service plans one would find from any other carrier including, Family Plans, post-paid plans, pre-paid plans and business plans.
A group of electric companies offering an additional utility service has a logic to it. And their ability to provide service in areas where the economics for larger carriers are weak due to limited subscriber base makes Southern Linc look like a strong contender as a different approach to an MVNO.