12:52 PM

Willing To Pay $500 For 'Velvet Glove' Monthly Cell Phone Service? Talk To Voce.

Voce's celebrity-priced cell service includes unlimited calling and a new phone every four months.

There's a new mobile-virtual network operator in town called Voce, and it's among a growing number of companies offering branded cell phones and services licensed from telecommunications carriers. Most of these operators, also known as MVNOs, target a specific demographic. Voce is going for the elite, billing its services as upscale, with $1,500 sign-up fee and frequent handset upgrades.

Created by Faith Inc., a Japanese content provider that made its footprint in the U.S. wireless market through its polyphonic ringtones, Voce says it will provide "first class" personalized wireless services in addition to basic services.

Voce's services, to become available this year, include unlimited calling, data downloads, "velvet glove" customer service, the latest technologies, and a new cell phone every four months, according to the company. Voce will operate on Cingular's wireless network, according to Visage Mobile, a partner that's helping Voce launch its services. Subscribers will initially sign up for $1,500 and then pay a flat rate of $500 each month.

Virgin Mobile USA LLC, a subsidiary of Virgin Group, and convenience-store chain 7-Eleven Inc. were among the first MVNOs to launch services in the U.S. Both companies license spectrum from Sprint and resell cell-phone services to consumers, which helps create customer loyalty and generate additional revenue.

Voce expects to first launch services in New York and Los Angeles this year and expand to the top ten metropolitan markets in the U.S. by the end of 2006.

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