Virgin Mobile USA launches unlimited plan; linked to possible Helio purchase

25 Jun 2008

In the wake of similar launches from the likes of Verizon Wireless and AT&T, Virgin Mobile USA has introduced its own unlimited plan dubbed ‘Totally Everything’ and priced at USD79.99 per month. It is understood the new tariff will be available from 1 July and will replace the MVNO’s existing 1,000 minutes per month plan which costs USD99.99. On top of the basic USD79.99, Totally Everything also costs USD10 per month for SMS and e-mail use.

In a separate story, Virgin Mobile USA is rumoured to be preparing a bid for Helio, a US mobile joint venture controlled by SK Telecom of South Korea. The Financial Times (FT) reports that the two sides have agreed a deal in principle and that an announcement could be made as early as this week. Under the deal being discussed, Helio would be subsumed into Virgin Mobile USA, with the Virgin brand name being retained, the FT said. It is hoped that by combining their operations the two businesses will increase their economies of scale in a fast-growing market. In return for giving up Helio, SK Telecom will take newly issued shares in the business equivalent to an equity stake of almost 20%. It is understood that the Korean firm has also agreed to invest an ‘unspecified’ sum in the US MVNO, according to the paper. Both Helio and SK Telecom declined to comment on the rumour.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database writes that Virgin Mobile USA had 5.103 million subscribers at the end of March 2008, relatively small potatoes in a US market of more than 247 million users. Helio, whose minority shareholder is US ISP EarthLink, counted around 200,000 customers in January this year, all of whom were on monthly contracts.

For more information on the GlobalComms database, visit:

http://www.telegeography.com/products/global_comms/index.php

United States