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Apple could be your next wireless company

August 3, 2015, 5:32 PM UTC
Retail sales consultant Ahmal Warner, right, helps customer Joel Nelson set up his new iPhone 6 at an AT&T store in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 21, 2015.
Photograph by Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Apple is reportedly in talks with telecom companies in the U.S. and Europe to let customers pay the Cupertino-based tech giant for wireless service directly, rather than going through wireless firms like AT&T (T) or Verizon (VZ).

The company is conducting private trials of the service in the U.S. and has engaged in discussions with European companies to offer a similar service there, Business Insider reports.

If such a deal were to materialize, Apple (AAPL) would pay a wireless carrier to lease access to its network, then resell that access to customers. It’s a popular model already in use by wireless providers like Republic Wireless, which relies on Sprint’s network when Wi-Fi isn’t available. There are reportedly more than 80 such wireless providers in the U.S.

Talks of Apple entering the carrier arena have persisted since 2006, when Apple filed a patent application for a such a service. The biggest benefit for Apple would be control, as it could provide Apple-branded wireless options to its iPhone and iPad customers.

The timing of this news comes after Google (GOOG) unveiled “Project Fi” in April, that company’s own wireless service that relies on a combination of Wi-Fi as well as Sprint (S) and T-Mobile’s (TMUS) networks.