Virgin Mobile logo outside UK & Ireland

Virgin Mobile is a wireless communications brand used by seven independent brand-licensees worldwide. Virgin Mobile branded wireless communications services are available in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Colombia, Chile, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Poland and Mexico. Virgin Mobile branded services used to be offered in Australia, France, Singapore, India, Qatar, South Africa and the United States.

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).

Current brand license holders

Virgin Mobile Ireland

Virgin Mobile Ireland was launched in 2015, at the same time UPC Ireland was rebranded Virgin Media Ireland.[1] Both Virgin Mobile UK and Virgin Mobile Ireland are operated by Virgin Media Limited, a subsidiary of Liberty Global.

Virgin Mobile KSA (Saudi Arabia)

Main article: Virgin Mobile Saudi Arabia

Virgin Mobile KSA is a telecommunication company operating in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It offers both pre-paid and post-paid plans through over 20,000 sale points in the country. Its offering targets mainly younger population, with flexible price plans and bundles.

Virgin Mobile Kuwait

On 22 March 2021, STC Kuwait and Virgin Mobile Middle East and Africa (VMMEA) received the Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority’s approval for the first MVNO licence in Kuwait. They will launch Virgin Mobile Kuwait using STC’s network, with STC acting as a host facilities provider.[2]

Virgin SIM card in Poland with the slogan of the campaign against hate speech ”Words have power, use them wisely"

Virgin Mobile Latin America

Virgin Mobile Chile

Main article: Virgin Mobile Chile

Virgin Mobile Latin America (VMLA) launched operations in Chile in April 2012, after receiving regulatory approval from Chile's telecommunications regulator and 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 was 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.[3]

Virgin Mobile won for three consecutive years the ALCO Customer Loyalty award for having the highest net promoter score (NPS) index in the telecommunications industry in Chile.[4] As of January 2016 Virgin Mobile Chile has a net portability balance of 322,560 customers[5] 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.

Some notable product offerings include no contract prepaid plans and a variety of payment options, from top up terminals to PayPal.[6]

Virgin Mobile Colombia

Colombia was the second South American country that received the Virgin Mobile network. It launched officially plans and services on 3 April 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 Ecuador

Operations in Ecuador were rumored to start in 2017, using Movistar's network. On 23 September 2019, the Ecuadorian government through a tweet from its former Communications Minister Andrés Michelena,[7] informed about the signature of an agreement that allows Virgin Mobile to start officially its operations in the country. Richard Branson (Virgin Mobile CEO) and Ecuadorian president Lenín Moreno met in NY and signed the agreement.

Virgin Mobile Mexico

In early 2014, Virgin Mobile Latin America's site for Virgin Mobile Mexico was launched. Since 10 April 2014, it has been 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. In April 2014 they only offered basic prepaid service (voice SMS Data) on a pay-as-you-go basis, and were expected to introduce more diverse offers soon. In June 2016 Virgin Mobile Mexico started to offer LTE access using Band 2.

Virgin Plus

Main article: Virgin Plus

Virgin Plus (formerly 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.[8] For four years running, Virgin Plus 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 Plus in May 2009 for CAN$142 million.[9] Some of its stores in Ontario and Quebec are operated by the largest Bell franchise, Cellcom Communications. In early 2010, Virgin Plus launched the iPhone 3G, 3GS and 4 post-paid service in Virgin Plus Retail Stores and online, all around Canada.[10] Virgin Plus became the fifth brand offering the iPhone in Canada, after Fido, Rogers Wireless, Telus, and Bell Mobility.

Virgin Mobile Poland

Main article: Virgin Mobile Poland

Virgin Mobile Poland is a mobile phone service provider operating in 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 UAE

Virgin Mobile UAE is a telecommunication company operating in the United Arab of Emirates. It offers both pre-paid and post-paid plans. Its offering targets mainly younger population, with flexible price plans and bundles.

Virgin Mobile UK

Main article: Virgin Mobile UK

Virgin Mobile UK is a mobile virtual network operator and a division of Virgin Media (which is joint-owned by Liberty Global and Telefónica). Virgin Mobile UK was the world's first mobile virtual network operator which launched in 1999, and later became part of NTL Telewest. It originally used the coverage of network operator One2One, which later became T-Mobile UK, and then EE.

In 2019, Virgin Mobile UK signed an agreement to move from EE to the Vodafone network.[11] However, it later gave notice of plans to terminate the Vodafone deal in its Q2 2021 financial report, due to Telefónica (owners of O2) acquiring 50% of the business. [12] Network traffic was moved to the O2 network during 2022, and in January 2023, the new parent company Virgin Media O2 announced that the Virgin Mobile brand would close, with all customers moving to O2 contracts by the end of 2023. [13]

Virgin Mobile Russia

Virgin Mobile Russia was launched on 27 November 2017 as a mobile virtual network operator under the Tele2 Russia network.[14]

Former brand license holders

Virgin Mobile Australia

Virgin Mobile Australia (VMA) was a telecommunications company based in Sydney, Australia. They sold through over 73 retail outlets,[15] including flagship stores in Perth, Sydney, Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane, as well as via telesales and an online store. Virgin Mobile Australia operated on the Optus network.[16]

On 30 May 2018, Optus announced that they would be phasing out the Virgin Mobile brand and would transfer Australian Virgin Mobile customers over to Optus. They said the phase out would take them roughly two years. On 15 June 2018, Virgin stopped selling all prepaid and postpaid mobile plans to customers. In June 2020 Virgin Mobile announced that they were temporarily extending the closure of Virgin Mobile Australia to 30 September 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic to help customers stay connected.[17]

Virgin Mobile France

Main article: Virgin Mobile France

Virgin Mobile France was a mobile virtual network operator in France that began as a subsidiary of Virgin Group.

Launched in France on 3 April 2006, Virgin Mobile was 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.

Virgin Mobile India

Main article: Virgin Mobile India

On 1 March 2008, Virgin launched the Mobile brand in India through a franchise arrangement with NTT DoCoMo.[18] This was Virgin's seventh launch globally and its largest.[19] 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.[20]

Tata Teleservices merged the company into its existing Tata DoCoMo service on 27 March 2015.

Virgin Mobile Peru

Virgin Mobile had a short venture in Peru where they failed to achieve the 2% market share they targeted, and the first MVNO from the Peruvian mobile market was eventually sold to another company: Inkacel of Spain.

Virgin Mobile Qatar

Was introduced as a secondary brand for QTel Qatar Telekom, but, after a process with Vodafone Qatar, Qtel renounced to the Virgin Mobile brand and eventually merged with the original brand name.

Virgin Mobile Singapore

Virgin Singapore was launched in October 2001 as a joint venture with Singtel. The operations were closed down on 11 October 2002 after failing to attract a significant number of customers.[21][22][23]

Failure of the joint venture was attributed to a saturated mobile market and Virgin Mobile's positioning as a "premium" brand.[24]

Virgin Mobile South Africa

Main article: 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 closed in South Africa on 17 September 2021 after 15 years operation.[25]

Virgin Mobile USA

Main article: Virgin Mobile USA

Virgin Mobile USA was a no-contract mobile virtual network operator owned by Sprint Corporation. It licensed the Virgin Mobile brand from United Kingdom-based Virgin Group. Virgin Mobile USA was headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, and provided service to approximately 6 million customers.

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.

In June 2017, Virgin Mobile dropped all Android and began to only offer iPhones to new customers under its new "Inner Circle" unlimited plan. Following the discontinuation of the plan in 2018, it began to restore Android devices to its line-up.

In January 2020, Virgin Mobile announced that it would shut down, and transfer its remaining customers to its sister brand Boost Mobile the following month. [26]

References

  1. ^ O'Reilly, Quinton (5 October 2015). "How does Virgin Mobile stack up against the other rival networks?". thejournal.ie. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  2. ^ "Telecompaper - STC and Virgin MEA receive first MVNO licence in Kuwait". telecompaper.com.
  3. ^ "Virgin Mobile Latin America on track to begin operations in Chile". Archived from the original on 23 January 2012. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
  4. ^ "Virgin Mobile destaca en lealtad de consumidores según encuesta". Transmedia. 3 September 2015.
  5. ^ "SUBTEL Portability Report January 2016" (PDF). SUBTEL.
  6. ^ "Virgin Mobile aceptará recargas a través de Paypal". Diario Financiero. 29 February 2016.
  7. ^ "BNamericas - Ecuador gives Virgin Mobile second chance to..." BNamericas.com. Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  8. ^ Virgin Mobile at comparecellular.com
  9. ^ "Bell Mobility acquires full ownership of Virgin Mobile Canada". Bell Mobility. 9 May 2009. Retrieved 28 July 2009.
  10. ^ "Wireless Canada: Virgin Mobile". Wireless Canada. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
  11. ^ "BT seeks Virgin compensation over MVNO migration". Broadband TV News. 23 August 2022. Retrieved 8 December 2022.
  12. ^ Jackson, Mark (13 February 2022). "Virgin Media O2 UK Moves to Cancel Vodafone Mobile Deal UPDATE". ISPreview UK. Retrieved 8 December 2022.
  13. ^ Jackson, Mark (11 January 2023). "Virgin Media UK Confirm Aim to Switch Virgin Mobile Plans to O2". ISPreview UK. Retrieved 11 January 2023.
  14. ^ "Virgin Launches Mobile Virtual Network Operator in Russia". 28 November 2017.
  15. ^ "Virgin Mobile Australia - Find a Store". virginmobile.com.au. Archived from the original on 28 November 2014. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  16. ^ "Optus Acquires Virgin Mobile Australia". EFYTimes. 12 January 2006. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 20 July 2007.
  17. ^ "Phase Out of Virgin Mobile Australia". Archived from the original on 6 April 2019. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  18. ^ "Virgin Mobile enters India through pact with NTT DOCOMO". The Hindu Business Line. 1 March 2008. Retrieved 30 March 2008.
  19. ^ "COAI questions Virgin's 'backdoor' entry, seeks clear policy". The Economic Times. 20 March 2008. Retrieved 30 March 2008.
  20. ^ "DoT clears NTT-DOCOMO deal". The Economic Times. 29 March 2008. Retrieved 30 March 2008.
  21. ^ "Virgin Mobile exits Singapore market". Electronics News. 10 July 2003. Retrieved 22 August 2007.
  22. ^ "Virgin, SingTel Close Venture After Mobile Flop in Singapore (premium)". The Wall Street Journal. 9 July 2002. Archived from the original on 25 April 2019. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  23. ^ "Last call for Virgin Mobile". CNET. 11 October 2002. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  24. ^ Akers, Lawrence (10 July 2002). "Virgin's Version". Forbes. Archived from the original on 6 May 2007. Retrieved 22 August 2007.
  25. ^ "Virgin Mobile SA closes after 15 years". Connecting Africa. Informa PLC. Retrieved 6 April 2023.
  26. ^ "Sprint is killing off Virgin Mobile USA, and Virgin is getting the rights back". 7 January 2020.