The Starmap international mobile alliance is reportedly looking to expand its scope beyond Europe into North America and Asia in an attempt to match the global footprint of rivals such as Vodafone. According to the Financial Times, the group, which is made up of second-tier operators such as Wind of Italy and O2 of the UK, is hoping to recruit the US wireless operator Cingular and the likes of Telstra of Australia, DiGi.Com of Malaysia and Thailand’s DTAC. The alliance was formed to give smaller operators more bargaining power when negotiating with handset suppliers and to give their customers access to a range of streamlined cross-border services.
Starmap currently includes eleven European operators which have a combined subscriber base of around 53 million. Signing Cingular, which is in the process of merging with rival operator AT&T Wireless, would bring in more than 46 million new users. Vodafone currently has around 140 million customers worldwide, while another international alliance, Freemove, which includes TIM, T-Mobile, Orange and Telefónica, serves a combined base of more than 170 million subscribers. Freemove says bulk buying helped it make savings of around 10% on an order for six million handsets from Siemens and Motorola.