And what about great customer service? The most affordable carrier in the U.S., T-Mobile, has great customer service and they're a lot cheaper than $200 a month. And with handset rental insurance and unlimited texting plans, I don't really see what Voce has to offer for the money.
Helio, another high-end MVNO, at least gets the data angle. They stress 3G access and a variety of chic smartphones. Helio even has come compelling mobile applications, like MySpace and Google Maps. But, I don't really see what I get out Helio that I can't get directly from Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, or T-Mobile on my own.
Here is my macropoint. If I am coveted professional with disposable income, all the major carriers are going to go out of their way to court me as a customer. And I won't need an MVNO to give me better customer service or a richer 3G data experience.
The real market for MVNOs has always been the prepaid market. Virgin got this from the beginning. Virgin Mobile does a great job of targeting affordable, prepaid mobile service that looks hip at high school and college kids and they've built a successful international business. Carriers don't like prepaid service -- the ARPU financial model, in a sense, punishes them for it -- and they are quite happy to offload it to someone else. And as Virgin has proven, there is money to be made in prepaid. If other MVNOs hope to replicate Virgin's success, I advise them to go after prepaid and leave the high-end customers to the carriers.