In a bid to renew consumer interest, UK supermarket group Sainsbury’s has become the first of the retailing giants to become a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). The One service went on sale in its supermarket stores this week, through a choice of four handsets.

In the same way that Virgin launched the Virgin Mobile service in 1999 as a virtual operation that utilises the One2One network, Sainsbury will be underpinned by BT Cellnet’s network. While the handsets will remain unsubsidised, the subsidised tariffs on offer are expected to appeal to business users.

Caroline Bloomer, principal consultant at Billing Expertise and Solutions in Telecoms, commented: “It would be a better deal for heavier phone users. If they are buying an expensive phone they have to be heavy phone users to recoup the cost.”

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