Cellnet asks Sony to make phones for new service

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The Independent Online
SONY, the Japanese consumer electronics giant, is to provide telephones for Cellnet's new low- cost mobile communications service to be launched later this year, writes Mary Fagan. The aim is to bring cellular telephone technology to the masses, with the Sony equipment selling in the high street.

A spokesman for Cellnet said: 'We aim to do a Sony Walkman on cellular radio.' He said the telephones would cost between pounds 200 and pounds 300 and would be available to coincide with the introduction of the new service, called Liberty.

Currently, cellular radio customers buy the handset as part of a package with the airtime they use from middlemen known as service providers. Liberty customers can buy from retail outlets and have Cellnet's service provider, or any other that they wish, link them into the system.

Instead of paying a connection charge of up to pounds 60 plus pounds 25 a month, which is the current rate, Liberty customers will pay pounds 15 a month but will have much higher call charges. The idea is to put people in control of their bills.

The cost per minute for national calls will be 50p at peak rate and 20p off-peak, compared with the current rate of up to 33p a minute peak and 10p off-peak. Cellnet believes that typical bills could come down to pounds 350 a year from pounds 700 now.

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