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Telefonica to launch low cost mobile operator

MADRID, Nov 19 – Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica will launch a low cost mobile virtual network operator in the coming weeks through the social networking site Tuenti which it bought in August, a newspaper reported Friday.

The operator will provide calls at a cost of four euro cents a minute between its customers and eight euro cents a minute for calls to all other operators, daily business newspaper Expansion reported.

Virtual mobile network operators provide cell phone services without having their own network and the new service, which will be called Tuentimovil, will use Telefonica\’s network, it added.

Telefonica bought 86 percent of Tuenti, a Spanish social networking site similar to Facebook which has nearly eight million members, mostly between the ages of 14 and 20, in August for around 75 million euros (102 million dollars).

The launch of the service marks Telefonica\’s effort to tap into the exponential growth of the social media phenomenon at a time when its revenues from its mobile services in Spain, which is struggling with an unemployment rate of about 20 percent, are falling.

Telefonica\’s sales in its domestic market Spain fell 3.6 percent to 4.72 billion euros in the third quarter over the same time last year.

Domestic wireless service revenue slumped 7.9 percent, compared with a 5.7 percent decline in the second quarter.

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