Austria's virtual mobile sector booming

Austria's rising mobile rates and smartphone use are attracting new entrants. A new mobile operator plans to start up in Austria next year, bringing fresh competition into the market after Hutchison Whampoa's takeover of Orange Austria.

Mass Response is the second company to take advantage of cheap wholesale access to Hutchison's network, which it was forced to offer as a condition of the takeover that reduced the number of Austrian mobile network operators to three from four.

Liberty Global's UPC, Austria's biggest cable operator, also plans to offer mobile services on the back of Hutchison's network as a so-called mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), but has not said when it will start.

The chief executive of T-Mobile Austria, the second-biggest of the country's three network operators after Telekom Austria, was reported to say that there might be room for up to 10 such MVNOs in the market.

He said a price war between the three network operators might be over and there could be room at the low end of the market for new entrants with cut-price deals.