Wireless service aimed at Latinos | VailDaily.com

Wireless service aimed at Latinos

Naomi Havlen

A new kind of cell phone is hitting the region this month, specifically targeting the growing Latino population.

Movida Communication is launching pay-as-you-go cell phone plans nationwide this year, providing wireless voice and data communication on the Sprint wireless network. Its various plans are specifically marketed toward Latinos in the United States, including calls to Mexico for 20 cents per minute.

Movida ” which means “on the move” in Spanish and is slang for moonlighting ” is partnering with Cisneros Group of Companies, Sprint and Wal-Mart to offer the service, estimating that there are more than 40 million Latinos living in the United States who might be interested.

The phones and cards customers buy to “refill” minutes onto their phones are sold at Wal-Mart stores and were already a surprise hit in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Hector Krauss, who recently visited Glenwood Springs with Movida, said sales skyrocketed in east Texas just after the storm hit the Gulf Coast, since a pay-as-you-go service was popular with English speakers and Spanish speakers who needed to contact loved ones immediately.

Although the phones are outfitted Spanish, users can also choose English. The phones will feature other specific amenities for Latinos, including celebrity news from Latin stars, soccer scores and updates on popular novellas, or soap operas.

“The company was created to sell to the Hispanic market ” not sell to the Hispanic market as a byproduct,” Krauss said. “Everyone in the company is of Latin descent, so we can address the Latin market in the United States without stereotypes.”

Luis Polar, editor of La Mission newspaper, based in Carbondale, said he estimates the Latino population from Aspen to Parachute to Avon is roughly 30,000 people.

Many of the Latinos in the area are from northern Mexico, but he said it’s good to see the company being “culturally sensitive, rather than putting everyone into one mold.”

“Hispanics have a need for communicating with family and friends, and we think that the Latino base in the United States is very communicative and mobile,” Krauss said.

Krauss said the new company is better than the prepaid phone calls Latinos often buy to call home.

“Unfortunately for the Hispanic market in the U.S., it’s easy to be fooled with those cards, when English is your second language,” Krauss said, noting that while the rates seem great, the fine print of a prepaid card often penalizes the user for not using all of the minutes during one phone call, or adds on connection fees.

Movida’s service includes a choice of three different cell phones and two service plans, both of which can be refilled with minutes by purchasing Movida cards.

Vail, Colorado

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