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November 17, 2011

Steve Jobs Wanted to Build Apple's Own Network, Replace Carriers: Report

By Beecher Tuttle, TMCnet Contributor

If it were up to AT&T (News - Alert) they would still be the only company to carry the iPhone. If it were up to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs (News - Alert), no carrier would be making money off of the company's iconic handset, at least according to wireless industry veteran John Stanton.

Jobs apparently spent the two years leading up to the official launch of the original iPhone (News - Alert) working on a way to leverage unlicensed spectrum to create Apple's own Wi-Fi-based network, effectively eliminating the need to partner with the likes of AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, Stanton told a Seattle crowd on Monday, according to IDG.

“[Jobs] wanted to replace carriers,” said Stanton, former head of Voicestream, which eventually became T-Mobile (News - Alert). “He and I spent a lot of time talking about whether synthetically you could create a carrier using Wi-Fi spectrum. That was part of his vision.”

Jobs eventually ditched the idea and decided instead to sign an exclusive deal with AT&T, although Apple later let in the likes of Verizon and Sprint.

Stanton went on to tell the crowd at the Law Seminars International event something that we already know: traditional wireless carriers have a target on their back.

“If I were a carrier, I'd be concerned about the dramatic shift in power that occurred,” he said, according to IDG.

Stanton suggested that mobile operators take some chances and try and find the next iPhone, rather than following in the footsteps of other carriers by making mammoth upfront investments like Sprint did earlier this year. The carrier essentially signed its life away to get the iPhone, agreeing to pay Apple nearly $20 billion through 2015, whether its sells all the phones it has in stock or not.

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse (News - Alert) told his Board of Directors that even with aggressive sales projections, the company likely won't profit from the deal until 2014. Still, the company felt like it needed to pull the trigger to remain viable.

Beecher Tuttle is a TMCnet contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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