When Steve Jobs first dreamed up the iPhone with his team at Apple, he didn’t want it to run on AT&T’s network. He wanted to create his own network, says venture capitalist John Stanton, who spent a good deal of time with the late Apple CEO during the phone’s development period.
Jobs wanted to replace carriers completely, Stanton says, instead using the unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum. Jobs would not have been the first executive to think about how Wi-Fi could literally replace use of mobile networks for mobile voice and data. There was a fair amount of such speculation in the late 1990s and earlier 2000s. Wi-fi for mobile service?
By about 2005, most began to see Wi-Fi as a complementary access alternative to mobile service. Wi-Fi becomes complementary Republic Wireless, the new mobile service provider, is the latest example of that line of thinking.
For ubiquity, no service provider yet has shown an ability to completely displace mobile networks.