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O2 hooks up with Disney for new 'family friendly' MVNO

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Mickey Mouse and his chums are to launch a mobile phone service in the UK as part of a new service aimed at families.

The service from Disney Mobile is due to launch later this year and will piggyback on O2's phone network.

Part of Disney's offer is to give parents greater control over their spending on mobiles and to limit their mobile net access. The announcement that Disney is to become a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) comes as the media giant prepares to launch a similar service in the US in June.

Children's campaigner John Carr welcomed Disney's plans to launch a "safe" service saying that it would give both parents and children "greater confidence".

"Many parents want to stay in touch with their children by mobile phone," said Carr, "but worry about them running up high bills, downloading inappropriate content, and being safe."

However, there are concerns whether the service - aimed at kids aged between eight and 14 - will appeal to fickle-minded image-conscious teenagers.

Senior Ovum analyst Carrie Pawsey asked: "Can Disney manage to segment the market and provide handsets and services that will please a princess/Barbie-mad eight year old, as well as a teenager who is very fashion-conscious and wary of not appearing cool to their peers - together with all the other fads and fashions that kids go through in between?"

Now that's a toughie. ®

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