As cell phone usage continued to rise among the younger demographic, Amp'd Mobile looked like it was poised for a great deal of success. Unfortunately, things didn't quite work out as planned for the American cell phone provider.
What Was Amp'd Mobile
Amp'd Mobile was originally launched in late 2005 as a premier MVNO, or mobile virtual network operator. This meant that it did not operate and maintain a cellular network of its own; instead, Amp'd Mobile customers were actually getting their service through the Verizon Wireless CDMA EV-DO network.
The CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) technology is the same kind of "2G" technology used primarily by Sprint, as well as the older networks of Telus Mobility and Bell Mobility in Canada. The EV-DO (Evolution Data-Optimized) part of the network is considered "3G" or "third generation" technology, offering faster data speeds for multimedia applications and mobile web access. Interestingly, the Amp'd Mobile phones did not work with the 2G network, so service was only available where Verizon had 3G. This restricted much of the Amp'd customer base to major metropolitan areas.
Hip to Teens and Young Adults
Amp'd Mobile was funded largely by MTV Networks and Universal Music Group, targeting the 18-35 year old age group. This tech-savvy generation was seen as wanting great mobile multimedia entertainment, including premium features like PTT (Push to Talk), Video on Demand, premium ringtonespicture messaging, and the Amp'd Live service.With these higher end services, customers had access to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) events, as well as a fun new cartoon called Lil' Bush about -- you guessed it -- a childhood version of former US President George W. Bush.
Phones Offered by Amp'd
In an effort to streamline the product, Amp'd Mobile only offered three different phones.
- Kyocera Jet: A sleek slider phone with a large, vibrant color display. Like the Hollywood, the Jet also comes with a personalized user interface, microSD expansion, and a built-in media player.
- Kyocera Angel: Functionally identical to the Jet, the Angel is simply the white version of the other phone.
Moving North to Canada?
In 2006, Amp'd Mobile decided to expand its operations into Canada, but under a slightly different arrangement. The MVNO partnered with Telus Mobility, creating a brand where Amp'd handled the marketing and content, whereas Telus took care of customer service, billing, and retail. This service launched in March 2007, but it was very short lived. Telus ceased its Amp'd Mobile operations in Canada in August 2007. This was a sign of things to come south of the border.
Declaring Bankruptcy and Closing Doors
Despite capitalizing on the tech-savvy youth demographic, Amp'd Mobile was not able to be a consistently profitable venture for MTV Networks and Universal Music Group. By having to rely on the Verizon network for its primary infrastructure, this also incurred great costs that Amp'd had a difficult time recouping.
As such, Amp'd Mobile filed for chapter eleven bankruptcy on June 1, 2007. The trouble, as it turned out, was that many of the customers were not paying their bills on time. In fact, court documents estimate that 80,000 of Amp'd Mobile's 175,000 subscribers at the time were listed as nonpaying.
Without the reliable source of revenue, Amp'd fell behind on its bills to Verizon Wireless. The latter threatened to cut off service if the debt was not paid. Eventually, an agreement was reached in June 2007 where cash collateral would be used to pay off the debt, allowing Amp'd to continue using the network.
All Amp'd Mobile services were discontinued on July 24, 2007 at 12:01 am. This announcement was made via text message to all its users two days prior, but the termination date was later extended to July 31, 2007 instead. Customer service ceased on July 23 and a text message regarding the bankruptcy was sent out on July 26.