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Budget mobiles set for launch.

A budget mobile phone service from easyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou could be launched in time for Christmas.

The entrepreneur's easyGroup business is believed to be close to a deal allowing it to rent air-time from Deutsche Telekom subsidiary T-Mobile.

Mr Haji-Ioannou has already announced the involvement of Danish telecoms company TDC, which will handle billing and the running of the network.

Under the easyMobile proposal, customers will be able to go on online to order sim cards and pre-paid airtime for their existing handsets.

A deal with T-Mobile is expected to be signed in the next week or two, with a pre-Christmas launch still a possibility.

The moves to extend the "easy" brand, which already features cinemas, hotels and car rental businesses, will put pressure on existing operators as the reduced overheads should allow easyMobile to offer lower call tariffs.

Mr Haji-Ioannou said in August the voice-based service would cover a different market to the rest of the sector, where operators are pushing internet and picture messaging products.

He also hopes to extend the service to 11 other European countries if the business model is successful in the UK.

No one from the company was available to comment yesterday.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 25, 2004
Words:199
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