SK-EarthLink to launch MVNO aimed at youth market

SK Telecom and EarthLink plan to launch a wireless service aimed at the youth market by the beginning of next year. The companies said the service is geared toward "young tech-savvy consumers." The joint venture will draw on SK Telecom's experience with products, services and systems. EarthLink will contribute customer service support. The companies plan to focus on form and style following Apple's iPod and Motorola's RAZR handset as role models. SK and EarthLink have yet to name the service. The two companies announced their $440 million joint venture in January and expect the MVNO to reach revenues of $2 billion by 2009 with 3 million subscribers.

The venture is part of the recent MVNO trend that includes Amp'd Mobile and ESPN Mobile. SK-EarthLink could be taking on Amp'd Mobile for the 18- to 34-year-old youth niche market. ESPN Mobile plans to target sports fans. Recent studies have found that attracting first-time subscribers in the US is a moot point since the vast majority of adults have already signed on to a carrier. MVNO's are a strategic move for carriers looking to steal subscribers from other markets through niche offerings.

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