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O2 Wireless Debuts Alcatel GSM Phone

It doesn't have a camera, Web browser, or Bluetooth, but the basic handset has a basic price: $19.99

O2 Wireless said it's offering the first Alcatel mobile phone to be approved by a major GSM carrier in the U.S.

O2 Wireless, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) operated by Locus Telecommunications, struck a deal with TCL Communication Technology Holdings, the exclusive manufacturer of Alcatel mobile phones, the service provider said late last week.

The Alcatel E206A handset is stripped down to basic functionality for the pre-paid services customers of Locus Telecomm and O2 Wireless.
(click for image gallery)

"TCL felt that O2 Wireless’ national reach, low long distance rates, and high-quality service made it the preferred choice to debut their chic European designed phones in the U.S." O2 said, in a statement. "This new relationship provides O2 Wireless with a broader array of phones as well as a cost-effective phone option that will support its national prepaid presence."

The Alcatel OT-E206a weighs less than 2.5 ounces; its battery life offers five hours' talktime and 250 hours in standby mode. It has eight different ring tones, and is not built to accommodate custom ring tones. Its directory can store up to 250 entries. The handset lacks the USB port, Bluetooth capability, built-in camera, and Web browser that some itinerant users come to expect, but the OT-E206a's $19.99 price is intended for those who just need basic access.

Users will also need to purchase airtime increments that range from 30 to 180 days. O2's prepaid services include the usual voice and texting options, with the flexibility of pay-as-you-go usage. The MVNO also sells mobile phones from LG Electronics, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Siemens, and Sony/Ericsson.

“We believe [the Alcatel OT-E206a] provides an excellent option that is uniquely positioned to support the cost-conscious prepaid cell phone segment," said Pete Grubb, VP of sales and marketing at Locus, in a statement.

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