U:fon blasts into mobile internet market

28 Sep 2007

The Czech Republic’s newest mobile services provider U:fon – which means ‘space alien’ in Czech – has blasted into the public consciousness on the back of an aggressive marketing campaign that plays on its name. The MobilKom unit launched in May this year and according to The Prague Post, has pushed its high speed wireless internet access service which costs CZK499 (USD26) per month on a two-year contract, subject to the user buying its proprietary equipment for CZK2,999. Its arrival in the nascent mobile internet market has its rivals rattled. Two leading mobile operators, T-Mobile and Vodafone, have slashed their wireless rates by 25% and 21% respectively, while Telefonica O2 CR has complained that MobilKom is breaking telecoms rules by telling P2 customers to sign up to U:fon’s services before their landlines were shut off.

Vodafone denies its decision to drop its prices was a result of U:fon’s arrival. ‘We don’t think the offer is on equal terms with a mobile phone company,’ it said. ‘At this time, there’s no need to take action in response to U:fon’s offer.’ For its part, T-Mobile cut the cost of its ‘Internet 4G’ data plans last month and now sells one-year mobile internet access, including a modem, for CZK5,999 — roughly the same as U:fon. Vodafone also reduced prices in August, from CZK950 to CZK750 for unlimited connectivity, the paper said. U:fon’s data service now reaches 60% of the population, according to MobilKom spokeswoman Jana Studnickova.