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MELBOURNE: A new mobile phone operator, claiming to offer free calls, aims to begin operations in Australia from this coming Friday.

Dubbed Zero Mobile, and Melbourne based, it will use the Telstra network.

But – natch! – there’s a catch. The free calls only work one way. Zero mobile CEO Glenn Mohammed has told the press that users will get free incoming calls along with free voicemail, but outgoing calls will cop the usual charge.

Mohammed told 7News that this so-called “freemium model” is similar to deals offered by several mobile companies in Britain.

And it seems that users on the “free” plans may also be targeted with ads. 

Mohammed says that Zero freeby users will be able to upgrade their plans to include unlimited local calls and local SMS – for a price.

CDN notes that Zero Mobile until recently also operated “virtual telco services” in Singapore, but in March its services were suspended due to what were said to be “failures to address outstanding billing issues”.

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