UK's Tello launches in a cutthroat MVNO segment via Sprint's network

The MVNO space became a little more crowded today with the launch of Tello, a service provider that has been active in the U.K. market for two years.

Tello uses Sprint's network and offers no-frills, a la carte plans with no activation fees, overage charges or contracts. And while users can build their own service, the company markets "predefined deals" as well: A $9-a-month economy plan includes 100 minutes of voice, 200 texts and 200 MB of LTE data, while a "Data Savvy" plan includes 500 minutes of voice, no texts and 5 GB of LTE data for $55 a month.

Data speeds are throttled down to 64 kbps once users hit their monthly allotments. Tello also has a pay-as-you-go option for national and international calls, texts and data.

The MVNO market in the U.S. features more than a hundred players with a wide variety of offerings, but Tello hopes to differentiate itself by enabling users to customize their plans as they wish through an online dashboard. Tello's site offers a dashboard with a menu of voice, text and data offerings, and it vows to provide around-the-clock customer service.

"Tello's innovative rate plan and customer-first model is very exciting," said Scott Kalinoski, Sprint's vice president of wholesale solutions, in a press release. "I think the straightforward offers and approach to how they do business will resonate in the market."

Users can activate their own unlocked CDMA phone on Tello's network for no charge, or can choose from one of more than a dozen handsets sold by the service provider. The MVNO's lineup starts at $56 for the Kyocera Hydro, a 3G phone running Android, and tops out with the $439 Samsung Galaxy Note 5. The iPhone 5s is also available for $399.

Tello's parent company is KeepCalling, which is headquartered in Romania and has offices in Atlanta and Bolivia.

Tello's service is likely to appeal to budget-conscious mobile users who want the flexibility to change their monthly plans on the fly. But the MVNO market teems with service providers striving to differentiate their offerings, and many -- if not most -- are focused on price. Tello will be challenged to make its voice heard in a very noisy field.

For more:
- see Tello's website

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