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Vodafone takes up Extreme Sports in MVNO
Monday, 13 June 2005




LONDON (Reuters) - Mobile phone giant Vodafone Group Plc (VOD.L: Quote, Profile, Research) is selling airtime to the Extreme Sports Channel in Britain's first Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) deal with a television channel.

The Extreme Group, which was set up by 33-year-old surfer Al Gosling in 1995, said on Sunday it would launch ExtremeMob -- a pre-pay mobile phone brand aimed at under the 24s -- in late July or early August and roll it out nationally in the autumn.

The group, which said it would jazz up voice and text services with sports content from an online portal, will initially sell phones and mobile phone cards on its website www.extrememob.com before branching out into its 18 stores across the country.

"(ExtremeMob) will deliver a service with an edgy content offering that feels more like a lifestyle magazine -- always fresh and relevant," it stated.

"A combination of stylish handsets, value for money tariffs and a 24/7 customer call centre will make ExtremeMob stand out in the mobile sector."

Vodafone said it had been approached by a number of companies hoping to set up MVNOs in Britain, which already has about 10 mobile phone brands battling for market share.

But it said Extreme -- a channel available in over 50 countries in 10 languages that is dedicated to sports, music, fashion and computer games with 24 hours-a-day non-stop action from surfing to snowboarding -- had a unique brand, content and distribution channel.

The Extreme Group said it was in talks with handset suppliers such as Germany's Siemens (SIEGn.DE: Quote, Profile, Research), France Sagem (SAF.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) and Korea's VK Corporation (048760.KQ: Quote, Profile, Research) and planned initially to offer services over standard second-generation (2G) phones before moving into the 3G video phone market later.

Vodafone is not the first to sign a wholesale deal with a television channel in Europe.

Orange, the mobile phone owned by France Telecom (FTE.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) has signed up French TV channel M6. Extreme sports will also be available on Orange's new UK mobile phone television service.

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