Flanker Brands in the Wireless Industry

Each of the major networks in the United States owns at least one flanker brand. In most cases, flanker brands cater to budget-sensitive consumers by offering subscribers low-cost, prepaid service. While flanker brands operate over major networks, the services they offer will not necessarily be the exact same as services network operators offer to their direct subscribers. For example, it’s common for flanker brands’ subscribers to have limited roaming options or low priority during network congestion.

Flanker brands vs. MVNOs

Mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) pay wholesale rates to network operators and resell service to consumers. While MVNOs and flanker brands often have similar business models and cater to similar customers, only flanker brands are owned by network operators.

In practice, people often categorize flanker brands as MVNOs. Occasionally, I’ll see a debate about whether this categorization is technically correct. I’m content not to take a side. Not every category has well-defined boundaries.

Flanker brands by network


  • Cricket Wireless


  • Boost Mobile
  • Virgin Mobile


  • Metro


  • Visible
  • Yahoo Mobile