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As UAE duopoly continues, Ikea UK launches mobile network

As UAE duopoly continues, Ikea UK launches mobile network

Cut-price furniture retailer the latest non-telco brand to enter mobile market; offers flat-rate pay-as-you-go scheme to loyalty card members.

August 4, 2008 3:52 by

The UAE’s telecom duopoly is expected to last until at least 2012. In the UK, a furniture store will this week become the latest non-telco brand to launch a mobile phone network. Ikea, the Swedish flat-pack specialist, is to start offering a mobile phone package which gives its loyalty card-holders a flat rate on calls and texts.

The launch is the latest addition to the increasingly hectic Mobile Virtual Network Operator sector. There are approximately 360 planned or operational MVNOs world-wide according to consultancy firm Takashi Mobile, with France, Denmark, Finland, Australia, the UK and US prominent. There are exactly zero in the Middle East.

Ikea’s Family Mobile pay-as-you-go deal is available for the UK’s 1.4m Ikea Family members, who will be charged 9p (18c) a minute for UK calls and 6p for text messages, says the Daily Telegraph. It launched a similar scheme in the US earlier this year.

Ikea said it was at least 25pc cheaper than comparable pay-as-you-go offers. There is no contract, and customers can keep their existing number. Households with several SIM cards can track calls and costs online.

In the Middle East, Axiom is seen as the likeliest first mover for a local MVNO.

“From our point of view, the move into an MVNO is one of the key strategic directions for us, but the question is always ‘what is the right market to launch into?” said Axiom CEO Fasial Al Bannai earlier this year. “When we select the market to launch into, we want to get it right.”

Jordan may be the first market to offer an MVNO license

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