Disney to launch mobile phone service in UK

The Disney Corporation has announced plans to run its own phone service in Britain later this year. The move follows a similar launch in the US earlier this year.

Disney plans to offer a ‘family oriented’ phone service, which will enable parents to control their children’s access to unsuitable material. For instance, they will be able to put a limit on the amount of time children spend on the phone and block access to specified websites.

As with some existing mobile phone services from the likes of Tesco and Virgin, Disney will not own its own equipment but will be a MVNO, or mobile virtual network operator. The company will be renting spare capacity from the O2 network.

Although the Disney service will initially be focussing on telephony, the company is well placed to take advantage of the vast library of family entertainment in its vaults – telcos are gearing up to deliver television broadcasts to mobile phones in the coming year. In addition to broadcasts of TV and films from the Disney stable, there will also be scope for ringtones and wallpaper as well.

That said, Disney’s traditional audience has been preteens and while many have mobile phones today, it is not a mass market that can be targeted in the same way that Virgin and others have focussed on the teenage market. Nevertheless, Disney says that it is looking to launch similar phone services in other parts of Europe and across the world.

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