An agreement between COOP Italia and Telecom Italia has paved the way for Italy’s first virtual mobile carrier, which is launching a range of services marketed under the “COOPVoce” brand.
The “COOPVoce” service will begin this April with a sample of COOP members who will try out COOPVoce’s new features and functions. When the trial phase concludes a few weeks later, COOP members and their families will be able to purchase SIM cards and top-ups from COOP outlets or on the net at http://www.e-coop.it/. COOP members will be able to make domestic and international calls, send and receive SMS and MMS messages, browse the web and access value-added services, just like the clients of any other mobile phone company.
The new service will work in Italy and abroad, thanks to Telecom Italia’s existing international roaming agreements.
The COOP will be setting its own pricing and rolling out a range of sales offerings. The company is directly responsible for customer acquisition and customer relations during the sales and after-sales phase through a dedicated number. For this service, the COOP was assigned the number “188” by the Comunications Ministry. COOP customer phone numbers will begin with the four digit mobile dial code “3311”.
“The COOP’s marketing of mobile telephony services over Telecom Italia infrastructure,” says COOP Italia Chairman Vincenzo Tassinari, “will help to promote competition on the mobile telecommunications market and benefit consumers. Our number one objective is to help families budget by offering straightforward, value-for-money solutions, in what is a further significant benefit to our members.”
Tassinari continues: “We will be managing sales ourselves through our extensive, ramified distribution network right across Italy (COOP is Italy’s largest major retailer, with a 17.1% market share, 6½ million members, over 1,300 outlets and 53,000 employees). By leveraging the loyalty the brand inspires, the COOP will be up and running in full competition with the other enterprises that operate on the Italian market.”
Aldo Soldi, Chairman of the Italian Cooperative Association, stresses that this move is a specific part of the COOP’s strategy, which he defines as “operating as an ensemble of businesses that cater to the latest consumer needs. The COOP is entering new markets where major consumer benefits can be extended to Italian families.”
The COOP mobile telephone offering will be characterized by two key elements: value for money and a clear pricing system that is both easy to understand and easy to compare, managed by COOP Italy in the interests of its cooperative affiliates and COOP members.
Telecom Italia is providing the COOP with nationwide mobile network technology infrastructure, plus the company’s expertise in running complex IT systems and developing innovative services.
“This agreement with the COOP,” points out Telecom Italia CEO Riccardo Ruggiero, “adds value to Telecom Italia’s infrastructure assets and is a tangible response to the expectations of institutions and consumers. It is a further sign that the mobile network access market in Italy is competitive, and on a par with other successful experiences in European markets.”
This move is the first result of the memorandum of understanding signed by the COOP and Telecom Italia in April 2006. The agreement offers scope for subsequent strategic cooperation in telephony.
Milan, 30 March 2007