Phones4U, the well-known high street and online phone retailer, will become a mobile virtual network operator in March when it launches LIFE Mobile, a brand-new network for the UK. LIFE Mobile will use EE’s network infrastructure but with its own selection of tariffs and prices, just like Virgin Mobile does at the moment.
What makes this exciting news is that although initially customers will only have the choice of 2G and 3G connections, later in the year LIFE Mobile will be given access to EE’s new 4G network. This makes it one of the first MVNOs to confirm it’ll provide a high-speed data connection in the UK.
Phones4U has an extensive network of more than 600 retail shops, where it already sells connections to the major UK networks, so provided LIFE Mobile’s tariffs are sensibly priced, it could find itself with a huge success on its hands. It has plenty of competition though, as there are at least 60 other virtual network operators in the UK already, each appealing to a particular niche.
According to Phones4U’s CEO Tim Whiting, LIFE Mobile will appeal to “tech savvy customers, who want the latest handsets.” Traditionally, MVNOs target groups with specific needs, such as cheap international calling or those wanting to do their bit for charity, while LIFE sounds the same as the major networks.
Phones4U hasn’t given an exact launch date for LIFE Mobile yet, and there are no tariffs available to compare costs with its rivals. All will become clear sometime in March, but don’t expect 4G to arrive until much later on, as EE will want to get as much out of its run of exclusivity before opening it up to others.