3/30/2007 10:33:00 AM
Virtual networks to claim quarter of prepay market
Virtual networks could grab as much as 25% of the prepay market by the end of the year, with Tesco, Virgin and soon Asda leading the charge.
Asda, in partnership with Vodafone, is understood to be weeks away from launching its rival to the hugely successful Tesco virtual network, increasing the prospect of the two supermarkets dominating the prepay scene with virtual networks.
The claim that MVNOs' share of the prepay market will surge from 15% to 25% was made by 20:20 mobile chiefs this week.
The uplift could make the virtual network market the fastest-growing sector amid a slowing mobile market.
Tesco revealed this week that it had added a phenomenal 420,000 active prepay customers over the last 12 months – a growth surge that eclipses T-Mobile, Vodafone and even the combined additions of Virgin and The Carphone Warehouse's Fresh. It takes Tesco Mobile's total customer base to 1.4 million.
With the contract market in a state of slumber, prepay has become a major battleground. Tesco is now the second biggest prepay retailer and is narrowing the gap on market leader, Carphone.
A spokeswoman for Asda said 52 stores will launch with 'technology centres' equipped to sell mobile phones, with 'a broader rollout' set for the remainder of the year.
Tesco Mobile chief Andy Dewhurst said of Asda's plan: 'This launch brings another alternative for consumers. The success of Tesco Mobile shows that increased choice for mobile customers is good for everyone.'