BT Cellnet will next month launch the UK's first pre-paid Wap-enabled mobile phone service.
The BT Cellnet Mobile Internet phone will be available from 3 April in the high street and through the internet for £99.99 (including VAT).
Calls will be charged at a flat rate of 10p a minute at all times, and voice calls will cost 30p a minute at peak times and 5p a minute off-peak. The pre-pay phone will come with 200 minutes of free calls, which can be used at the weekend for Mobile Internet access and standard voice calls.
BT Cellnet said that customers who connect to the service between 3 April and 30 June 2000 will get double the number of bundled free minutes for a period of three months from the date of purchase.
The company's decision to make a pre-paid option available for Wap-enabled phones, so soon after its launch of contract Wap phones in January, is an aggressive move. The availability of pre-paid on contract phones helped make mobile telephony a mainstream market.
Until this announcement most industry watchers had expected Wap phones to remain at the premium end of the market for some time. However, BT Cellnet claimed its sales of Wap mobile phones could reach 500,000 as early as June. Wap phones from Nokia, Motorola, Mitsubishi, Siemens, and Alcatel will be featured in the promotion.
Peter Erskine, managing director of BT Cellnet, said: "The new service will enable BT Cellnet to rapidly establish the UK's largest customer base of early adopters in Mobile Internet. They will buy more Wap phones than any other kind in the next three months. We're taking Wap mass market. The old mobile phone market has had its day."
The fast-moving approach of the BT subsidiary in the mobile market contrasts markedly with the telco's approach in the ISP business, where it has failed to meet its own promised deadlines to introduce technologies such as ADSL.
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