Mobile phone outfits line up Xmas blitz

Mobile phone companies have unveiled their most aggressive marketing packages yet, as they prepare for the peak Christmas buying season.

One2One will try to woo new subscribers by offering a free two-day break for two in a choice of over 100 Forte Heritage or Posthouse hotels. This, its most generous Christmas promotion yet, is intended to ensure it holds its position as the fastest growing network, adding up to 45,000 subscribers each month.

Cellnet is offering cash. New subscribers retaining the service after six months will receive up to 100 to reward their loyalty.

Product launches will try to appeal to users unwilling to commit to a contract. Vodafone and Orange will both ape One2One’s 199 pay-as-you-go phone, which enables users to buy minutes of talktime, and avoid monthly charges or minimum-term contracts.

Orange will offer its JustTalk phone, costing 179.99. Vodafone will undercut both its rivals with a 99 pay-as-you-talk phone. It will offer the analogue service, which offers none of the data transfer or overseas use of the digital network, but lets Vodafone undercut on price.

“Marketing is the only way to differentiate between the services and it is getting more cut-throat,” says Perdita Patterson, deputy editor of What Mobile magazine. “The analogue network has been dying, but the Vodafone deal should revive marketing, aiming it at the occasional user who wants a cheap, basic service.”

Vodafone leads the market with 3 million subscribers, Cellnet has 2.8m, Orange 1.3m and One2One 755,000.

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