European mobile alliance challenges Vodafone

In a move to challenge larger competitors, seven smaller European mobile phone companies with networks in nine countries have banded together in an alliance to offer cross-border services to both business and private customers.

In addition to services, the new alliance will aim to leverage its combined strength to purchase terminals and other equipment, according to a statement released Wednesday by mmO2 PLC, the U.K. mobile phone company that is spearheading the deal.

MmO2 owns mobile phone networks in the Germany, Ireland and the U.K. The British company will be joined by six other operators: Auna Telecommunicationes SA’s Spanish mobile unit Amena, Austria’s One GmbH, Hungary’s Pannon GSM Telecommunications Rt., TDC Switzerland AG’s mobile unit Sunrise, Telenor ASA’s Norwegian mobile unit Telenor Mobile and Italy’s Wind Telecomunicazioni SpA.

Together, the still-unnamed alliance has around 40 million customers, according to the statement.

The group hopes to strengthen its position against Vodafone Group PLC, Europe’s largest mobile network operator with over 80 million customers in nearly 30 countries, and another mobile alliance formed by Orange SA of France, Telecom Italia Mobile SA, Telef

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