Apple could be planning its own phone network, according to reports.
The company is secretly trialling a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) — a mobile network that borrows its service from other companies — according to Business Insider. It is in talks to bring the service to the US and Europe, according to the reports, but it might not actually appear for another five years.
Apple has issued an outright denial of the story, telling CNBC that "it has not discussed & is not planning MVNO cellular service following reports saying it was planning on doing that". The company rarely makes public denials, even if products are at early stages, usually only doing so when projects genuinely don't exist.
At the moment, iPhone users have to buy a phone outright and then find their own carrier, or buy their phone through the carrier and stay on a network for years. But the company could bundle the services together, meaning that Apple will both make and then connect up the phone.
Apple has been looking to launch its own MVNO since at least 2006, when it patented plans to launch its own network.
The company also launched its own “universal SIM” in the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3, which allows people to have their phone connected up and then choose what network they want to get their data from.
Apple is also planning to launch a Siri-powered “iCloud Voicemail”, which will see the assistant answer phone calls and then transcribe them, according to Business Insider. That would make Apple less dependent on phone networks, the site points out, since at the moment voicemail is handled by them.
Google has already launched its own mobile network, announcing in April that owners of its Nexus 6 phone would be able to join a special, Google-run network. Project Fi borrows its voice and data capacity from US operators Sprint and T-Mobile, and lets people connect to wifi using Google-endorsed hotspots.