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New-kid-on-the-block no frills mobile phone outfit - easyMobile - has responded to jibes from Virgin Mobile by cutting or reducing a number of "hidden nasties" from its service.

Virgin Mobile had pointed out "catches galore" with the easyMobile service including it being the "only operator that was audacious enough to charge its customers for paying them" - a reference to the fact that punters are charged up to £1 each time they top up their PAYG service.

In response, easyMobile accused Virgin Mobile of panicking but also moved to cut the cost of its service.

Said easyMobile in a statement: "With retrospective effect from our launch date, we have eliminated or reduced most of the charges and fees Virgin Mobile believes will limit our ability to win over Virgin customers."

The telco backed by entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou has also cut call charges to 6p a minute for UK calls and 2p for texts.

But if Stelios thinks he's blunted Virgin Mobile's attack, he better look over his shoulder. The Carphone Warehouse - which has some 120,000 users on its own discount mobile phone outfit Fresh - moved quickly to undercut easyMobile.

From today, the cost of Fresh calls to UK mobile or land lines drops to 5p a minute while texts are to cost just 1.7p.

Said CW boss Charles Dunstone: "We made a commitment to customers that Fresh will always be the price leader and we are honouring that commitment."

With a price war currently raging, it remains to be seen exactly how low operators are prepared to push down prices and how long they will be maintained. ®

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