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Sprint powers launch of MVNO targeting Hispanics

Sprint today announced its latest mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) customer, Movida, a new wireless operator targeting mobile service at the 40 million Hispanics living in the U.S.

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Movida officials said its MVNO would launch in the first half of this year, selling Movida-branded phones at select Wal-Mart locations across the country. Movida won’t just be reselling voice minutes, however. It will launch its own service plans replete with voice and data offerings over Sprint’s 1X network on pre-paid basis. Those services and the customer service applications and operations backing them up will be conducted primarily in Spanish, reflecting the newly launched carrier’s new motto “press two for English.”

Movida’s primary investor is the Cisneros Group, a media conglomerate with holdings across Latin America, Europe and the U.S., including stakes in Univision, AOL Latin America and DirecTV Latin America. After the service’s initial launch, Movida will integrate content from Cisneros companies into its data and voice plans. Movida officials also said they would leverage Cisneros’s expertise in serving the Hispanic market at launch.

“We’ve built the perfect alliance to successfully reach this segment,” Movida President Anthony Montoya said in a statement. “With the best wireless network in the nation, the leading retailer in the country and one of the largest Latin American media and entertainment groups, we couldn’t ask for a better line up to launch and grow our business.”

For Sprint the deal perfectly reflects its MVNO strategy--partnering with other companies to target specific market segments it’s own brand and services don’t target. Sprint is one of the few carriers without a pre-paid offering, and it has relied upon its MVNO partners like Virgin Mobile to fill in those gaps. The Movida deal goes far beyond the pre-versus post-paid debate, to targeting a community completely outside of Sprint’s marketing efforts. Movida said it won’t merely take existing wireless promotions and advertisements and translate them into Spanish. Instead it will market using the particular nuances of the different Hispanic cultures in the U.S.

The Hispanic population in the U.S. is expected to grow to 17% of the total U.S. population in 2010, and in many top urban markets, the Hispanic population has already far exceeded those percentages. Of that population, Movida said, 90% use pre-paid services, making the appeal of a pay-as-you-go Hispanic-targeted provider obvious.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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