Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group is planning to launch its own branded wireless services across Latin America, in partnership with Tribe Mobile. The partnership plans to invest USD300 million over the next five years to roll out mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) services across the region. Latin America is viewed as an attractive market for MVNOs because, despite having a population of more than 550 million, strong economic prospects and attractive regulatory structures, there are fewer than ten active MVNO operators. Sir Richard said: ‘Latin America’s mobile telecom consumers will benefit from Virgin’s entry into their markets to provide our exciting customer focused product offering, wide range of great services, transparent pricing and value for money. We look forward to launching our first businesses within the next twelve to 15 months.’
Virgin Mobile-branded operations already exist in Australia, Canada, France, India, South Africa, the US and the UK while Tribe Mobile is best known for establishing Dubai-based FRiENDi, the largest MVNO in the Middle East and north Africa region. FRiENDi also has operations in Oman, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, and plans to begin service in other countries in the region by 2012. Virgin and Tribe’s Latin American partnership is also backed by two institutional investors, California-based ePlanet Ventures and Oman-based Dolphin International which is also an investor in FRiENDi.