Tiscali takes on Virgin with branded mobile move

Tiscali is planning to take on Virgin Media with the launch of a branded mobile phone service in a move that would make it only the second company in the UK to offer “quadruple play”.

Tiscali, which has just bought broadband provider Pipex for £210m – in addition to recently acquired digital TV provider Homechoice – announced this week that it was launching an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) service in Italy.

Sources say that it would be a “logical progression” to do the same in the UK later this year or next year.

Tiscali has signed a deal with Telecom Italia to become the first “virtual” operator in Italy. The MVNO concept is popular in the UK with Virgin and Tesco among the biggest players.

Tiscali Italy chief executive Tommaso Pompei says: “For an integrated telecommunication company like Tiscali the possibility of offering mobile services is a natural evolution and an gives us an important competitive advantage.”

A spokeswoman for Tiscali UK says that launching a mobile service has been a consideration for the UK business since last year.

But she adds: “At the moment it remains a possibility for the future. The UK is mainly focused on rolling out TV. Our key strategy is to optimise our investment in our network and mobile doesn’t meet that.”

Convergence has seen a host of new players, such as BSkyB and Carphone Warehouse, offering broadband. However, Virgin Mobile is currently the only company with a “quadruple play” offer of TV, broadband, fixed-line telephones and mobile phones. Tiscali TV, the rebranded Homechoice service, will roll out nationally later this year.

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