Virgin Mobile USA
|Fate||Merged with Sprint November 24, 2009:75|
October 18, 2001|
San Francisco, California, United States
|Headquarters||Kansas City, MO, United States|
Number of locations
Number of employees
|500 (2009)|
|Parent||Sprint Corporation (Sale to T-Mobile US pending):329|
Virgin Mobile USA is a no-contract mobile provider on the nationwide Sprint network. The provider is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sprint Corporation and one of many Virgin Mobile brands around the world, licensing the brand from United Kingdom-based Virgin Group. Virgin Mobile USA is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri and provides service to approximately 6 million customers. As a consequence of their 2017 contract with Apple to become an iPhone-only carrier, the company will be closing their Kansas City headquarters.
Founded in 2001 as a joint venture between Virgin Group and Sprint Corporation, Virgin Mobile USA commenced operations in June 2002 as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), providing services via the Sprint 1900 MHz CDMA network. In 2009, Sprint Nextel bought out joint venture partner Virgin Group, becoming the sole owner of Virgin Mobile USA.
- 1 History
- 2 Services
- 3 Network
- 4 Services
- 5 Account security
- 6 Marketing
- 7 Retail presence
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Virgin Mobile USA was formed in 2000 by a small team of wireless experts in San Francisco. In July 2000, John Tantum and Dave Whetstone pitched Richard Branson on entering the U.S. market after Virgin had successfully launched Virgin Mobile in the United Kingdom in 1999. At that point, the U.S. team began pitching the U.S. mobile operators on the concept of an MVNO, which at the time was not well understood. There had been many resellers that had come and gone (MCI was one of the highest profile examples). The MVNO concept Virgin Mobile was pitching to mobile operators was a joint venture, where both parties would have aligned incentives to create a valuable business. This was very different than the often contentious relationship that mobile operators had with resellers. Sprint had tried and failed twice with a prepaid product, and decided that maybe a partner could do it better. Once Sprint stepped up the mobile network in September 2001, a joint venture was created between Virgin Group and Sprint Corporation, and Dan Schulman was brought in to run the business. Virgin Mobile USA began operating in the summer of 2002. Because prepay had a downmarket perception at the time, Virgin Mobile USA called its service "pay as you go." It was a prepaid-only provider.
Initial public offering
In May 2007, Virgin Mobile USA, Inc. initiated an initial public offering (IPO) by filing with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. On October 10, 2007, Virgin Mobile's sold 27.5 million shares at US$15 per share, at the low end of the original $15–$17 prediction.
On November 15, 2007, approximately one month after the IPO, Virgin Mobile USA announced earnings for the three-month period ended September 30, 2007. The company reported that its third-quarter loss widened to $7.3 million, compared with a loss of $5.1 million in the year-ago quarter. The company also reported a pro-forma loss of 15¢ per share, compared with a loss of 10¢ per share in the year-ago period. As of November 16, 2007, shares of the company's common stock had declined to $9.19 per share.
The company reported in 2007 that it held an exclusive license for the Virgin Mobile brand in the United States, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico until the end of 2027. In exchange, Virgin Mobile USA agreed to pay 0.25% of gross revenues up to an annual limit of $4 million, adjusted annually for inflation.
Acquisition of Helio
In 2008, Virgin Mobile USA acquired Helio, Inc., a competing mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) also hosted on the Sprint network, aimed at post-paid, contract users. By late 2009, Virgin Mobile USA ceased selling new Helio phones or service, dropping the Helio name.
Full acquisition by Sprint Nextel
On July 28, 2009, Sprint Nextel Corporation agreed to acquire the outstanding shares of Virgin Mobile USA, Inc. in return for Sprint Nextel stock valued at approximately US$5.50 per share of Virgin Mobile USA common stock. Prior to the purchase, Sprint Nextel owned 13.1% of Virgin Mobile USA.
After the acquisition, Sprint Nextel formed the Sprint Prepaid Group an organizational division which included Sprint's other prepaid offerings, Boost Mobile and Common Cents Mobile.
Initial smartphones and Beyond Talk plans introduction
Discontinuation of Helio
Sprint Nextel announced in March 2010 that Virgin Mobile USA would stop providing service to Helio post-paid customers on May 25, 2010. Sprint Nextel offered Helio customers incentives to switch to Sprint-branded service plans.
Integration of Common Cents Mobile
On May 18, 2011, Sprint Nextel discontinued operating its Common Cents Mobile pre-paid brand. Common Cents Mobile customers were transitioned to a Virgin Mobile USA payLo service plan that allowed the former Common Cents Mobile customers to keep their existing $.07 per minute rate.
Initial 4G devices
On May 31, 2012, Virgin Mobile USA began offering 4G products and services using Sprint's 2500 MHz 4G WiMAX network. The HTC EVO V 4G, which was also previously released by Sprint as the HTC EVO 3D was the first 4G smartphone.
On February 25, 2013, Virgin Mobile USA released the Samsung Galaxy Victory 4G LTE, its first 4G device using Sprint's 4G LTE network. On June 28, 2013, Virgin Mobile USA released the Apple iPhone 5, its second device taking advantage of Sprint's LTE network. On April 1, 2014, Virgin Mobile USA released the NETGEAR Mingle mobile hotspot, its first tri-band device which is capable of using all three of Sprint's LTE bands.
Inner Circle announcement
In June 2017, Virgin Mobile USA announced it would transition to become the first iPhone-exclusive carrier with the Inner Circle plan.
Virgin Mobile USA offers wireless products and services through Virgin Mobile, and Assurance Wireless Brought to You by Virgin Mobile.
Virgin Mobile-branded service is available within the contiguous United States, Hawaii and Puerto Rico coverage areas under the Sprint nationwide network.
Virgin Mobile USA offers lifeline telephone service subsidized by the United States Federal Communications Commission's Universal Service Fund under the Assurance Wireless Brought to You by Virgin Mobile brand. The program offers a free wireless smart phone, 350 free local and domestic long distance voice minutes, unlimited text messages, and 1 GB of data per month to people who meet eligibility requirements and live in a participating state. In addition to the standard services users receive, users may add additional voice minutes, text messages and international long distance via pre-payment using a credit card, debit card, Virgin Mobile top up card or PayPal.
Assurance Wireless users do not receive a bill, are not required to sign a contract and do not pay activation fees or recurring fees.
As of January 2013[update], Assurance Wireless service is available to qualifying residents of Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
Customers who already own an iPhone can bring it to Virgin Mobile USA if it is compatible. As of February 2018, grandfathered customers without the iPhone-only Inner Circle plan remain eligible to purchase Android devices, feature phones and mobile broadband modems.
Inner Circle Virgin Mobile USA has one plan offering for new customers. The iPhone-only Inner Circle plan offers customers unlimited talk, text and data for $50. However, when users purchase an iPhone or bring their own iPhone and port their number to Virgin Mobile, the first 6 months of service are $1 per month. The Inner Circle plan also promotes "perks" that customers have exclusive access to as Inner Circle members. These "perks" include a companion ticket on Virgin Atlantic, an extra night at Virgin Hotels and discounts from Virgin Wines.
Data Love and Data Love+ Virgin Mobile USA maintains the Data Love and Data Love+ plans for customers who were already using these services before June 21, 2017. These unlimited plans offer high-speed 4G LTE data. Data-Free Music is automatically included for those on Virgin Mobile's Data Love or Data Love + plan with Streaming Music. Users must download one (or more) of Virgin Mobile’s streaming music partner's apps through Google Play or the iTunes App Store in order to access Data-Free Music. Virgin Mobile USA unlimited service plans for phones do allow roaming for devices that have been enabled to roam. Virgin Mobile maintains the text content of text messages for three months and records of to whom and when text messages were sent for two to three months.
Customers on the Inner Circle plan are eligible for member benefits. The concept is the same as Virgin Mobile Canada's program of the same name, which was first introduced in 2010, and competitor T-Mobile Tuesdays, which was introduced in 2016. Most member benefits differ between the American and Canadian versions, though the programs do share some partners and deals in common, including H&M and Virgin Hotels.
Virgin Mobile USA offered older services that are now discontinued. Customers with such services may be entitled to a grandfather clause.
Broadband2Go Internet plans were offered with Virgin Mobile USA's mobile broadband modems. Users could purchase access to Broadband2Go services by the day or by the month. A daily plan offered 250 MB of full-speed access. Monthly plans ranged from 500 MB to 6 GB. access.
payLo plans offered users unlimited talk and text for $40 per month.
Virgin Mobile offered talk, text, and mobile web access plans for feature phones and smartphones under the Data Done Right brand. These plans could only be purchased at Walmart.
In September, 2012, media outlets began reporting on the findings of Kevin Burke, a software developer and Virgin Mobile USA customer. Burke's experimentation led him to claim that Virgin Mobile USA's account security practices did not adequately protect customer account information.
To access their account via the Virgin Mobile USA website, customers must enter their ten-digit telephone number and a six-digit password. The maximum possible number of six-digit passwords is one million, a relatively small number. According to Burke, Virgin Mobile USA did not employ security techniques that would prevent an attacker from rapidly cycling through all possible password permutations, allowing a brute force attack to succeed in twelve days or less.
In response to the wide media coverage, Virgin Mobile updated its online account access system, limiting users to 20 attempts from one IP address.
Beginning on May 2, 2011, Virgin Mobile USA launched a campaign that revolved around a fictional Hollywood celebrity couple "Sparah". The campaign was expected to last six months, but ran through the end of 2011. Virgin Mobile produced multiple videos and photo galleries that starred the fictional couple and posted them to a dedicated website "sparah.com." Virgin Mobile USA hoped to connect the ability for consumers to enjoy data-intensive web content using a Virgin Mobile USA unlimited data plan.
In March 2012, Virgin Mobile introduced an ad campaign featuring Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group and the slogan "We answer to a higher calling".
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Virgin Mobile USA will pay $39 million in stock to buy operator Helio, the company said Friday.
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As of May 18, 2011, Common Cents Mobile has officially become payLo by Virgin Mobile.
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Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S) said it will fold its Common Cents Mobile prepaid brand into its Virgin Mobile payLo offering in May, a move that brings to an end a brand Sprint launched less than a year ago.
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$1/mo for 6 mos offer: Available only to new customers who transfer their phone number to the Inner Circle plan and either bring their own iPhone or purchase an iPhone and activate in an Apple Store.
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...Sprint Nextel Corp.'s Virgin Mobile brand keeps the text content of text messages for three months.
- Goodin, Dan. "Millions of Virgin Mobile accounts at risk of password attacks". Ars Techinica. Condé Nast. Archived from the original on December 1, 2012. Retrieved November 5, 2012.
Millions of cellphone users who subscribe to Virgin Mobile risk having their online accounts compromised because of a draconian password policy enforced by the US wireless provider, a software developer said.
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Virgin Mobile’s newest marketing campaign launches today, inviting customers to “Keep Up With Sparah.”
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Sprint's prepaid arm, Virgin Mobile, took aim at T-Mobile spokeswoman "Carly" and an AT&T caricature in its latest advertisement.
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