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Orcon: mobile launch will be a spring offensive

ISP Orcon has decided to move its “purple phone” mobile network launch to August or September, waiting for the big guns to exhaust their powder.

Orcon, which is scheduled to become Vodafone’s third mobile virtual network operator after Black+White and Compass, has decided to hold off its launch - which has been billed as a couple of months away since October last year.

Vodafone wants Orcon muscle
While Black+White and Compass are relative minnows, Kordia-owned Orcon is one of our largest ISPs, and would put real muscle behind Vodafone’s effort to create a virtual mobile network operator market (companies whom, in the style of Virgin Mobile, have no cellular infrastructure but sell a rebadged service).

Vodafone is reckoning that its MVNOs - as well as feeding it with wholesale revenue - will help undermine Telecom's new network, and NZ Communciations pending launch (Telecom has its own MVNO effort, but unlike Vodafone's full-blooded 3G partners, TelstraClear and Digital Island are confined to 2G with no access to the telco's new XT 3G network).

Orcon chief executive Scott Bartlett told NBR this morning that all staff are now using cellphones running on a trial version of the service, which is expected to launch with cellphones decked out in the ISP’s trademark purple livery.

However, “we’re in no hurry”, Mr Bartlett says.

“We’re going to let the 800lb gorillas go first. They’ll spend millions of dollars, and if we launched now we’d just get lost in the noise.

“We’ll wait for dust to settle then do something in August or September.”

When Orcon’s mobile phone network does launch, it will likely focus on high-end residential consumers and small business, says Mr Bartlett.

More by Chris Keall

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It's now may 2010