Virgin Mobile is a wireless communications brand used by eight independent brand-licensees worldwide. Virgin Mobile branded wireless communications services are currently available in Australia, Colombia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Chile, France, Saudi Arabia, Poland, South Africa, México, and the United States. Virgin Mobile branded services were formerly offered in Singapore, India and Qatar.
Each Virgin Mobile branded entity acts independently from the others, thus the handsets, service plans and network radio interfaces vary from country to country. In a given country, the Virgin Mobile wireless entity is typically a partnership between Richard Branson's Virgin Group and an existing mobile network operator or mobile virtual network operator (MVNO).
- 1 Current brand license holders
- 1.1 Virgin Mobile Australia
- 1.2 Virgin Mobile Canada
- 1.3 Virgin Mobile France
- 1.4 Virgin Mobile Poland
- 1.5 Virgin Mobile South Africa
- 1.6 Virgin Mobile UK
- 1.7 Virgin Mobile USA
- 1.8 Virgin Mobile Latin America
- 2 Former brand license holders
- 3 References
- 4 External links
Current brand license holders
Virgin Mobile Australia
Virgin Mobile Australia (VMA) is a telecommunications company based in Sydney, Australia. They sell through over 73 retail outlets, including flagship stores in Perth, Sydney, Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane, as well as via telesales and online.
In Australia, Virgin Mobile operates on the Optus network.
Virgin Mobile Canada
Virgin Mobile Canada experienced substantial growth in 2008, launching approximately 60 'Virgin Mini Stores' (VMS) across the country. VMS are kiosks usually located in shopping malls that especially target the 18- to 35-year-old demographic. For four years running, Virgin Mobile Canada has received J.D. Power and Associates' annual award for Highest Customer Satisfaction for Prepaid Wireless. Post-paid plans were introduced to Virgin Canada in February 2008.
Bell Mobility acquired Virgin Mobile Canada in May 2009 for CAN$142 million. Some of its stores in Ontario and Quebec are operated by the largest Bell franchise, Cellcom Communications. Since early 2010, Virgin Mobile Canada launched the iPhone 3G, 3GS and 4 post-paid service in Virgin Mobile Retail Stores and online, all around Canada. Virgin Mobile became the fifth brand offering the iPhone in Canada, after Fido, Rogers Wireless, Telus and Bell Mobility.
Virgin Mobile France
Virgin Mobile France is the French division of Virgin Mobile. It is a mobile virtual network operator, and was at the origin a subsidiary of Virgin Group.
Launched in France on 3 April 2006, Virgin Mobile is the fifth mobile operator on the French market, and the first MVNO by number of subscribers, with over 2 million customers. Chaired by Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, Virgin Mobile was commercialized by OMEA TELECOM, a joint venture between Virgin Group and Carphone Warehouse before it was bought in 2015 by the French communication group SFR-Numericable.
It is known to be the first operator to have launched a plan with unlimited SMS in France.
Virgin Mobile Poland
Virgin Mobile Poland is a mobile phone service provider operating in the Poland. The company launched in 2012. Being a virtual operator, Virgin Mobile does not maintain its own network, and instead has contracts to use the existing network of Play and T-Mobile.
Virgin Mobile South Africa
Virgin Mobile South Africa (VMSA) is a joint-venture between Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group and Cell C. Virgin Mobile South Africa launched in 2006. In February 2011 it was reported that Cell C's 50% stake in Virgin Mobile is to be sold to Virgin Group of the UK and Calico Investments of the Bahamas.
Virgin Mobile UK
Virgin Mobile UK is a mobile phone service provider operating in the United Kingdom. The company was the world's first Mobile Virtual Network Operator, launched in 1999. Being a virtual operator, Virgin Mobile does not maintain its own network, and instead has contracts to use the existing network of EE. Virgin Mobile was bought by NTL:Telewest on 4 April 2006 before joining the quadplay of Virgin Media services when NTL:Telewest rebranded into Virgin Media on 9 February 2007, with a new logo in-line with Virgin Media.
Initially, Virgin Mobile in the UK used the coverage of network operator T-Mobile and had been doing so since their establishment. However, following the merger of T-Mobile and Orange UK, forming the combined EE network, customers now take advantage of the former Orange broadcasting signals in addition.
Virgin Mobile USA
Virgin Mobile USA, L.P. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sprint Corporation that provides nationwide, prepaid, wireless voice, messaging and broadband data products and services to customers in the continental United States under the Virgin Mobile, "payLo by Virgin Mobile" and "Assurance Wireless Brought to You by Virgin Mobile" brands. Founded in 2001 as a joint venture between Virgin Group, Singapore Telecommunications Limited and Sprint Corporation, Virgin Mobile USA commenced operations in June, 2002 as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) providing services via the nationwide Sprint 1900 MHz PCS, CDMA, digital network.
Virgin Mobile USA currently provides services to customers via the Sprint CDMA, EVDO, LTE, and Sprint Spark networks. Virgin Mobile branded handsets and broadband access devices are available online and at more than 40,000 retail partner locations including Best Buy, RadioShack, Target, Walmart and independent dealers nationwide. Virgin Mobile branded "top-up" cards are available online and in 150,000 retail locations nationwide.
In 2008, Virgin Mobile USA acquired post-paid services provider Helio, Inc. In 2009, Sprint Nextel Corporation bought out joint venture partners Virgin Group and SingTel, becoming the sole owner of Virgin Mobile USA.
Virgin Mobile Latin America
Virgin Mobile Chile
Virgin Mobile Latin America (VMLA) launched operations in Chile in April 2012, having received regulatory approval from Chile’s telecommunications regulator as well as signing an agreement with Movistar, one of the country’s leading mobile network operators. VMLA announced in June of this year its plan to become Latin America’s leading mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). Since then, the company has made significant progress towards its goal of beginning commercial operations in many countries. Chile will be its first commercial operation in early 2012. Richard Branson commented: "We are excited to have made such good progress towards launching our first mobile business in Latin America in Chile."This is an exciting project for Virgin and we believe Virgin Mobile Chile customers will be delighted by the services we will be offering them at launch." “We are very appreciative of Subtel’s (Chile’s Subsecretaría de Telecomunicaciones) prompt approval of our application," said VMLA’s chairman Phil Wallace.
Virgin Mobile has won for three consecutive years the ALCO Customer Loyalty award for having the highest Net Promoting Score (NPS) index in the telecommunications industry in Chile. As of January 2016 Virgin Mobile Chile has a net portability balance of 322,560 customers that have transferred their phone numbers from or to other companies. This figure does not include "non ported" customers that started with a new phone number.
Virgin Mobile Colombia
Colombia was the second South American country that received the Virgin Mobile network. It launched officially plans and services on April 3, 2013, working with Movistar's electromagnetic frequency. The high rate of active mobile lines in Colombia makes this country a good place to set telecom and networks operations. Virgin Mobile took advantage of the 4G spectrum auction in Colombia in June 2013 to release more data services with the fastest mobile speed in the world.
Virgin Mobile México
As of early 2014, Virgin Mobile Latin America's site for Virgin Mobile México is up and as of 10 April 2014, it is possible to purchase micro, nano and regular sim cards through several points of sale located in shopping malls or over the internet. They have reached an agreement to use Movistar´s network. As of April 2014 they only offer basic prepaid service (voice SMS Data) on a pay-as-you-go basis, and are expected to introduce more diverse offers soon. Starting June 2016 Virgin Mobile Mexico started to offer LTE access.
Future expansion plans
Former brand license holders
Virgin Mobile Qatar
Virgin Mobile Qatar was a brand licensing partnership agreement between Virgin Group and Qatar Telecom (as Qtel Group). The new brand was launched 13 May 2010 over the network of Qatar Telecom (Qtel). Virgin claims to be Qatar’s first youth-oriented mobile brand, and offers pre-paid-only, simplified all-day tariff plans (with no distinction between peak and off-peak), with a 180-day airtime validity — which it says is the longest available in the country. Local calls are charged at QAR0.55 (USD0.15) per minute for the first five minutes used in each day, and QAR0.30 per minute after that, whilst mobile internet access costs QAR1 per 1MB. Richard Branson, chairman of UK-based Virgin Group, said: "Virgin Mobile [has] more than 15 million customers around the world ... I am proud to have partnered with Qtel to make Virgin Mobile Qatar our first mobile launch in the Middle East." The service is the eighth Virgin Mobile branded operation in the world, following on from launches in the UK, Australia, the US, Canada, France, South Africa and India. Branson added that Virgin Group is mulling further partnerships with Qtel, which has a group presence in 17 countries.
Virgin Mobile Qatar was being widely mistaken to be the third-mobile network operator (MNO) in Qatar, in the form of a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), essentially a brand as reseller. It has been confirmed by the Qtel and ictQatar, the local telecommunications authority reiterating that its only a branding agreement.
This service has since closed due to a dispute with Vodafone. Customers will have ample opportunity to obtain their replacement SIM cards or seek a refund. Qtel will communicate full details of the migration programme and customer refund options to all of their QVMS customers and provide them with reminders before finally de-activating any remaining active Virgin Mobile branded SIM cards between the 1 and 3 August 2011.
Virgin Mobile Singapore
Virgin Singapore was launched in October 2001 as a joint venture with Singtel. The operations were closed down by October 2002 after failing to attract a significant number of customers.
Failure of the joint venture was attributed to a saturated mobile market and Virgin Mobile's positioning as a "premium" brand.
Virgin Mobile India
On 1 March 2011, Virgin launched the Mobile brand in India through a franchise arrangement with NTT DoCoMo. This was Virgin’s seventh launch globally and its largest. However, on 29 March 2008, the Department of Telecom (DoT) cleared the deal after clarification from Tata Teleservices indicated that Virgin had not entered India as an MVNO.
Tata Teleservices merged the company into its existing Tata DoCoMo service on 27 March 2015.
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- "Virgin Mobile Australia - Find a Store". virginmobile.com.au. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
- "Optus Acquires Virgin Mobile Australia". EFYTimes. 12 January 2006. Retrieved 2007-07-20.
- Virgin Mobile at comparecellular.com
- "Bell Mobility acquires full ownership of Virgin Mobile Canada". Bell Mobility. 2009-05-09. Retrieved 2009-07-28.
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- Nickinson, Phil (2009-07-28). "Sprint purchases Virgin Mobile USA". WMExperts. Retrieved 2010-06-13.
- "Jobs At Virgin Mobile". Virgin Mobile USA. Retrieved 2010-07-14.
- "Virgin Mobile Latin America on track to begin operations in Chile". Retrieved 2012-01-14.
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- "SUBTEL Portability Report January 2016" (PDF). SUBTEL. SUBTEL.
- "Virgin Mobile aceptará recargas a través de Paypal". Diario Financiero. Diario Financiero. 2016-02-29.
- "Virgin Mobile aims to launch operations in Peru in 2015". Telecompaper. 4 November 2014. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
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- "Virgin Mobile Qatar Launched". ITP.net.
- Sutherland, Ewan. Qatar – the Regulator confirms Virgin is an MVNO not an NO, 3wan.net blog, 17 May 2010.
- "End To Virgin Mobile Name in Qatar Over Competition Row With Vodafone". Sky News. 8 June 2011. Retrieved 2010-07-24.
- "Virgin Mobile exits Singapore market". Electronics News. 2003-07-10. Retrieved 2007-08-22.
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- "Virgin Mobile enters India through pact with NTT DOCOMO". The Hindu Business Line. 2008-03-01. Retrieved 2008-03-30.
- "COAI questions Virgin's 'backdoor' entry, seeks clear policy". The Economic Times. 2008-03-20. Retrieved 2008-03-30.
- "DoT clears NTT-DOCOMO deal". The Economic Times. 2008-03-29. Retrieved 2008-03-30.