Carphone Warehouse is to launch mobile virtual networks for third-party brands through Value Telecom, its own “virtual” network.
Value Telecom buys airtime from One 2 One, repackages it and sells it to consumers under its own brand.
But Carphone Warehouse intends to allow other brands to operate their own mobile networks through Value Telecom, effectively reselling their own virtual network.
Carphone Warehouse commercial director Andrew Harrison says the company intends to offer brands “networks in a box”.
“We will approach brands and businesses with sales and marketing skills, not necessarily the inclination or ability to get involved in mobile networks, but to whom there would be advantages of providing customers with a mobile service,” says Harrison.
“We are going to accept all mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) with open arms.”
He is in talks with five big brands which have a “lifestyle” agenda and expects deals to be announced within weeks.
Tesco, BSkyB, NTL and Telewest are all believed to be considering launching MVNOs (MW August 3).
But Carphone Warehouse may separate and distinguish Carphone Warehouse Group activities, such as Value Telecom, from the Carphone Warehouse stores to avoid confrontation with the existing networks which it represents in its retail stores.
Harrison says: “We could set up Value Telecom as a separate business.”
He says MVNOs launched through Value Telecom will not necessarily be distributed by Carphone Warehouse stores. Harrison also says Carphone Warehouse may do deals with other network operators.