What is the difference between carriers and network providers?

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What’s a carrier?

A phone carrier is the entity that makes it possible to connect our calls. They ‘carry’ the phone number and make it live so that it actually works.

What’s a service provider?

A service provider is the entity which actually sells the service to the customer, sets up the contract and offers you various service features. They are the one’s who package the product.

What’s the relationship between the carrier and the provider?

The service provider cannot provide you with a phone service without a carrier to connect your calls. The provider cannot exist without the carrier in the background.

In some cases, the service provider and the carrier are the same. This is because the provider owns its own carrier.

For example, O2, Vodafone and EE are all carriers and service providers. Whereas, companies like Tesco Mobile, giffgaff and Sky are all service providers that rely on different underlying carriers to make their service work.

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