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Santa runs out of mobile phones

Christmas rush sees One-2-One muscle in on Cellnet's Asda patch

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Hoist by its own petard, Cellnet has run out of pre-paid handsets, leaving supermarket giant Asda to turn to mobile phone rival One-2-One for its supply of boxed phones this Christmas. Asda claims the number of phones it gets from Cellnet satisfies only a third of the demand it has for such products. The supermarket currently sells around 5,000 Cellnet handsets per day. Pre-paid mobile phone services, where customers are charged in advance for calls, are proving to be one of Santa’s most popular stocking fillers this year. Such sales are expected to account for one million connections over this year’s final quarter. In November, Cellnet set off a price war when it cut a deal with Asda to launch "U" at £69.99 for handset and connection, about £30 cheaper than competitors. The Carphone Warehouse immediately dropped its prices to match. The same month saw Cellnet, Orange and One-2-One all poo-poo Vodafone chief executive Chris Gent for his overly modest prediction of up to 50,000 pre-pay handsets this Christmas.®

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