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Helio bumps up handset price tags

Mobile virtual network operator Helio L.L.C. raised prices on its two handsets-the Drift and the Heat, both from Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.-to $225 (from $175) and to $150 (from $100), respectively. The price hikes coincide with the end of a month-long promotional effort Helio began in mid February.
The two phones comprise the carrier’s complete handset lineup. However, Helio recently announced a QWERTY device, dubbed the Ocean, which it plans to begin selling in the spring for $300.
The price increases for Helio’s handsets are unusual: MVNOs rarely tweak their handset prices. Helio may be caught between using attractively priced handsets to lure subscribers and increased pressure to staunch financial losses. EarthLink Inc., one of Helio’s parent companies (the other is SK Telecom), projected the MVNO’s losses could reach $330 million to $360 million this year, based on marketing and sales expenses.

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