Vodafone, Sonera sign Zed mobile phone deal

Vodafone Group PLC is to give users of its mobile phone network in the UK access to the information services of Sonera Zed, a UK-based subsidiary of Finnish telecommunications operator Sonera Corp. that provides mobile services aimed at consumers, the companies announced Monday.

As part of the deal, for which financial details were not disclosed, Vodafone's 11.6 million UK customers will have access to Zed's mobile text messaging service, the companies said in a joint statement.

Vodafone and Sonera Zed will share revenue from the service, according to Vodafone spokeswoman, Michele Burgess, though she would not say how much revenue Vodafone expected to make through the deal.

Sonera Zed has also signed agreements with the four major wireless carriers in Germany, enabling the service to reach an additional 50 million users, according to Sonera spokesman, Patrick Kerr.

The company estimates it will gain access to 20 million users through its agreement with T-D1 AG, 20 million with D2 Vodafone AG, 6.6 million with E-Plus AG and 3.6 million with Viag Interkom AG, Kerr said.

The agreements between Sonera Zed and its new partners include buying capacity for data services on the operators' networks, or establishing a revenue-sharing partnership (as is the case with Vodafone in the UK), or a combination of the two, Kerr said, though he declined specify the arrangements with each company.

As a result of the various agreements, Sonera Zed will now be available to 100 million users worldwide, in such countries as the UK, US, Germany, Turkey, Philippines, Singapore, Netherlands and Finland, Vodafone and Sonera said.

Along with Sonera Zed, a number of other Nordic mobile operators have been extending their portal brands outside of their home territories, including Swedish operator Telia AB's Speedy Tomato portal which has already been launched in the UK, Finland and Denmark, and plans to launch in Italy by mid-year.

The Sonera Zed mobile services includes movie, theater, restaurant and television guides as well as lottery numbers and news, sports and weather updates. A fee is charged by Sonera Zed each time a customer makes a request for information from the service, the companies said.

Vodafone, in Newbury, England, can be reached at +44-1635-33251 or http://www.vodafone.com/. Sonera, in Helsinki, Finland can be reached at +358-20401 or online at http://www.sonera.com/. Sonera Zed, in Uxbridge, England, is at +44-20-8606-6000, or at http://www.zed.com/.

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