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Meijer Enters MVNO Market

5/07/2008 01:36:00 PM Eastern

Grand Rapids, Mich. — Midwest grocery and hardlines chain Meijer has begun selling its own line of prepaid wireless phones and phone cards through a partnership with Fusion Mobile, an Austin, Texas-based mobile virtual network operator (MVNO).

The chain, which operates 181 supercenters throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky, said it is the first major retailer to offer its own-branded prepaid cell phone service.

Meijer Mobile will piggyback on the nationwide Sprint PCS Network, and features three handset models by LG and Samsung, unlimited nights and weekend minutes, domestic long distance, text messaging, voicemail, caller ID, three-way calling and the ability for customers to keep their unused minutes. Customers can also send three attached-photo messages for 18 cents a day or browse the Web for 20 cents a day.

“This is a big step forward for our electronics department,” said Rob Shadowens, Meijer’s electronics merchandising manager. “Our partnership with Fusion Mobile allows us to marry the highest value in prepaid wireless with the high levels of service Meijer customers have come to expect. It’s a real win for those customers who rely on prepaid wireless offerings as their cell provider of choice.”

Shadowens added: “Cellphones are a daily part of today’s busy lifestyle. The goal of Meijer Mobile is to give those families some very easy options when it comes to cell phones. Essentially, every checkout lane at Meijer could be viewed as a wireless phone store without the long waits for service."

Meijer and Fusion have set up a dedicated Web site at www.meijermobile.com.

Meijer describes itself as the inventor of the “one-stop shopping” concept, as its stores have evolved to include expanded fresh produce and meat departments along with a comprehensive CE assortment, pharmacies, garden centers and apparel.

Fusion Mobile is an authorized agent of Wichita Falls, Texas-based Telispire, which was established in 2000 to provide private-labeled nationwide wireless resale solutions.