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New Austrian mobile service to start next year

VIENNA (Reuters) - A new mobile operator plans to start up in Austria next year, bringing fresh competition into the market after Hutchison Whampoa's takeover of Orange Austria.

Mass Response is the second company to take advantage of cheap wholesale access to Hutchison's network, which it was forced to offer as a condition of the takeover that reduced the number of Austrian mobile network operators to three from four.

Liberty Global's UPC, Austria's biggest cable operator, also plans to offer mobile services on the back of Hutchison's network as a so-called mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), but has not said when it will start.

The chief executive of T-Mobile Austria, the second-biggest of the country's three network operators after Telekom Austria, told Reuters this week there might be room for up to 10 such MVNOs in the market.

He said a price war between the three network operators might be over and there could be room at the low end of the market for new entrants with cut-price deals.

Mass Response, a former unit of Telekom Austria, provides interactive services for television and media companies, for example for viewers to vote in game show competitions, as well as call center and other telecoms services for businesses.

It said on Sunday it now plans to branch out into the consumer market as well as providing new mobile packages for business customers and machine-to-machine connections like telematics in cars or smart utility metering.

(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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