Japan’s second largest mobile operator by subscribers, KDDI, says it plans to enter the US market by launching a mobile virtual network operator (MNVO) service in partnership with Sprint Nextel. KDDI will use the US operator’s CDMA network initially to target ex-pats and Japanese citizens either living or working in the country. The Japanese cellco hopes to begin offering the service by mid-April via Sanyo handsets rebranded under the KDDI mobile brand. Sprint already has several other MVNO ventures including Helio, which is targeted at the youth sector, Boost Mobile, Virgin, Disney, and Qwest.
Meanwhile, SK Telecom of South Korea has said that it expects its own US MVNO Helio to be cash-flow positive by 2009. The Korean firm, which operates in the US under a joint venture with local ISP EarthLink, says it expects Helio to have between 200,000 and 250,000 customers by the end of this year, with annual sales of between USD140 million and USD170 million.