Black + White confident it won't meet TelstraClear's fate

New mobile virtual network operator says it owns its customers and promises to cut the cost of mobile prepay services.

New entrant mobile operator Black + White is confident its wholesale agreement with Vodafone won’t suffer the same fate as TelstraClea's agency agreement. In July last year, Vodafone assumed direct control of all 30,000 mobile customers who had bought services through TelstraClear under the agency agreement that expired on June 30, 2007.

However, Black + White CEO Johnathan Eele says his company is not an agency and owns all of its customers.

“We dangle a reasonable amount of clout in terms of wholesale with Vodafone. We are not an agency, we’re a completely independent company. We don’t need heaps of customers to make this work. Seventy per cent of New Zealanders are on prepay, that’s a huge opportunity in terms of people who can move [to us] tomorrow,” Eele says.

Black + White launched its plans in a publicity stunt outside Telecom headquarters in Auckland today with hired protestors demanding cheaper pre-paid plans.

The company is promising to cut the cost of mobile prepay services, saying they pay a lot for the freedom of not having an account.

It is offering mobile phone users their choice of calling rates and minutes plus 600 free texts per month.

Eele says Telecom’s recent 3G network announcement has not affected his company’s plans either.

“They’re advertising a revolution that’s not ready yet and ours is ready right now.”

He claims the advertising will promote the fact that people need to change their phones to work on the 3G network.

“This is also a clear illustration to anyone who has a Telecom mobile phone that it’s not going to work on the network anyway.”

Eele adds that customers may as well look for, “someone who has flexibility and can give you great rates on the handset".

A company statement says that customers with Telecom Mobile handsets will need a new handset, which it can offer at factory prices without a fixed contract.

Black + White claims New Zealand has an high proportion of prepay users, at around 70 per cent compared to around 40 per cent internationally. These users pay higher calling rates than those on contract, it says.

The company said new phones with manufacturer’s warranties can be purchased "at parallel imported" prices on its website or from trademe.

Black + White’s back-end fulfilment and help desk will be managed by ASX-listed mobile company M2.

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