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Carphone Warehouse (CPW) has started offering monthly contracts on Talkmobile, a new branded virtual operator.

CPW already has a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), called Fresh, but Talkmobile will be carried on the Vodafone network rather than T-Mobile's.

Carphone has been offering pre-paid connections on its Fresh brand for a while, but without enormous promotion or effort. Talkmobile could receive more attention as the profit and margins are likely to be better, even though subscribers will basically be Vodafone customers as CPW is just buying minutes wholesale from the operator.

Monthly contracts tend to have a better ARPU (Average Revenue Per User), as people who make a lot of calls generally don't want to muck about with ensuring their credit is topped up. Carphone reckons punters are getting put off by the 12 and 18 month contracts that most companies offer, so is offering a nine month contract in the hope of getting pre-paid customers to make the switch to contract.

The deal with Vodafone also indicates warming relations between the two companies after Voda took its business elsewhere almost a year ago. The deal has also fuelled speculation that their decision to go exclusive with Phones4U will come to an end soon.

CPW is expecting a significant increase in the number of visitors to its stores next month, when the iPhone goes on sale. That will be exclusive to O2, and it would be underhand of CPW to try and sell punters wanting an iPhone a different handset on their own tariff - so that obviously won't happen, then. ®

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