Seven smaller European mobile phone companies with networks in nine countries have banded together in an alliance to offer cross-border services to both business and private customers.
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In addition to services, the alliance will aim to exploit its combined strength to purchase terminals and other equipment, according to mmO2 , the UK mobile phone company spearheading the deal.
MmO2 owns mobile phone networks in the UK, Ireland and Germany. The company will be joined by six other operators, Auna Telecommunicationes' Spanish mobile unit Amena, Austria's One, Hungary's Pannon GSM Telecommunications, TDC Switzerland's mobile unit Sunrise, Telenor's Norwegian mobile unit Telenor Mobile and Italy's Wind Telecomunicazioni.
Together, the still-unnamed alliance has around 40 million customers.
The group hopes to strengthen its position against Vodafone Group, Europe's largest mobile network operator with more than 80 million customers in nearly 30 countries, and another mobile alliance formed by Orange of France, Telecom Italia Mobile, Telefónica Móviles of Spain and T-Mobile International.
Services to be provided by the mmO2-led alliance include seamless GPRS and MMS, short dialling codes and simple access to home services, such as voicemail.
A prepaid "top-up" service will allow customers to top up credit on their prepaid phone card when travelling in member counties.
Corporate customers will benefit from competitive flat-rate pricing plans for voice and data services and also the ability to send and fetch e-mail and access corporate intranets while roaming on partner networks.
John Blau writes for IDG News Service