Displaying items by tag: MVNO

Virgin signs 5G mobile deal with Vodafone UK

Written on Thursday, 07 November 2019 07:17

Virgin Media has agreed a five-year mobile deal with Vodafone to bring innovating new services to customers in the UK. The deal includes bringing 5G to around three million mobile users and will allow Virgin Media further flexibility to grow its mobile operation.

The new Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) agreement, which runs until 2026, will see Vodafone supply wholesale mobile network services, including both voice and data, to Virgin Mobile and Virgin Media Business. Virgin Media will have full access to all of Vodafone’s current services and future technologies, such as Vodafone’s expanding 5G network, enabling new product advancements and benefits for its customers.

Virgin Media’s current MVNO agreement with BT Enterprise, which has been in place since January 2017, will come to an end in late 2021, at which point Virgin Media’s mobile offering will transition to Vodafone. Virgin Mobile 5G services are set to launch on the Vodafone network before the transition takes place.

The cable group currently uses BT’s mobile network EE in a deal that runs until 2021. Virgin will also launch 5G services via the Vodafone network before that point. This comes as a blow to BT as it comes under pressure to spend billions upgrading full-fibre capability. The current deal costs Virgin £200m a year.

Lutz Schüler, Virgin Media CEO, said: “We’ve worked with BT to provide mobile services for many years and will continue to work together in a number of areas. We want our customers to have a limitless experience - it’s now the right time to take a leap forward with Vodafone to grow further and faster”

He added: “This agreement with Vodafone will bring a host of fantastic benefits and experiences to our customers, including 5G services in the near future.  Twenty years ago Virgin Mobile became the world’s first virtual operator and this new agreement builds on that heritage. It will open up a whole new world of opportunity for Virgin Media as we focus on becoming the most recommended brand for customers and bring our mobile and broadband connectivity closer together in one package for one price.”

Nick Jeffery, Vodafone UK CEO, said: “We are delighted that Virgin has recognised the huge investments we’ve made, and continue to make, in building the UK’s best mobile network and our role in challenging the market with new commercial services. As a result, they have chosen us to work with them in the next phase of their development.

Published in Telecom Operators

Established in 2014 in Saudi Arabia, Virgin Mobile turns out to be successful in targeting the largest mobile market in the Middle East and especially the youth. In an interview, Virgin Mobile Saudi Arabia's CEO, Fouad Halawi, talked about the company's achievement so far, the hosting of MVNO that boosted competition and its  close relationship with the young consumer.

Why was Virgin launched in Saudi Arabia in 2014? For example, what gaps did you see in the market where you saw a brand like Virgin Mobile could flourish?
Several factors contributed to Virgin's launch in Saudi Arabia, the most prominent of which include the CITC issuing of licenses for MVNO's to operate in the Kingdom, allowing us to access a huge market that was previously unavailable to us. Secondly, Saudi Arabia is one of the largest markets in the Middle East, especially when one takes into consideration the telecom industry within the country itself. Operators have access to an extremely diverse population that can be tapped into on several touch points.

Finally, one of the major pulls for launching in KSA was the youth segment in the Kingdom which is by far the largest segment of all, representing around 50% of the total population. Given that no operator in KSA targets the youth specifically, we thought it was just perfect to do so given the size of this segment, especially given the fact that Virgin Mobile is a youth brand at heart, and our product offering is tailor made for the youth's wants and needs.

How did the CITC's decision in 2014 to make each of KSA's three mobile operators host an MVNO to boost competition affect the industry in Saudi Arabia?
The KSA mobile market has seen extraordinary growth over the last 10 years. Today, there are around 48 million mobile subscriptions compared to around 25 million in 2006. That growth led directly to the government's decision to allow MVNOs to enter the market which, in and of itself, has led to market disruption. MVNOs have shown the way forward for other operators - they're more agile, nimbler and more willing to take risks. Their youth means that they have less to lose and that has allowed them to compete against their well-established and often better-funded competitors.

For Virgin Mobile, the challenge of taking on the incumbents has been accepted wholeheartedly, from the way it looks after its customers to the look and feel of the stores to the customer-specified bundles. All aspects of the brand and service have been designed to appeal to the large swathe of people not satisfied with what they were getting from their operators. Virgin Mobile has been able to tap into the need for change felt by many young consumers and with its less-cumbersome structures and processes; it has been able to meet those needs.

Virgin Mobile Saudi Arabia passed a significant milestone this year: crossing the 2 million customer mark. What does this achievement mean in terms of the company's growth?
Our philosophy has always been very straightforward: simple and fair propositions underpinned by a great customer experience. That has really resonated with Saudis - the Saudi youth in particular - and has been at the heart of our success since our launch just two years ago. Virgin Mobile's success lies in an absolute focus on innovation, both in its plans and customer experience. With one of the youngest populations on the planet and the highest smartphone penetration in the world, we have been able to capitalize on the demand for data due to shifting customer preference. As far as what this achievement means in terms of the company's future growth, we see two major points:

Broader Customer Base: Our company growth has the advantage of exposing Virgin Mobile to a wider audience. Customers, like employees, are important in operating a successful company. Our growth will place Virgin Mobile in the forefront of many customers' minds.

New Personnel: One clear advantage our businesses growth is the opportunity to staff the company with new, qualified Saudi youth. Since our people are our most important and valuable assets, acquiring new and talented personnel is a clear-cut advantage for Virgin Mobile. These people will bring fresh ideas to the organization and bring a sense of camaraderie to the organization.

Where are you seeing growth spots in Virgin Mobile Saudi Arabia's customer range, and in what areas is the company innovating?
Virgin mobile Saudi Arabia is focusing on two main areas; first is improving the customer journey through major partnerships, the most recent one is partnering with Genesys in order to elevate the customer journey experience through a digital engagement center. This center will address issues and queries in a speedy and "informed" matter. Virgin believes it will increase efficiency and mostly increase customer satisfaction. The second area is youth engagement, through many initiatives and sponsorship of youth activities across the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia has a large youth population. How does Virgin Mobile Saudi Arabia appeal to the youth?
Virgin Mobile's success has been to break out of its original demographic heartland into a broader customer base. It no longer counts just the Saudi youth as it customers and a typical Virgin Mobile user is as likely to be in their 40s as 20s. What does mark out all Virgin Mobile customers is that they want to be - and be seen as - different. And Virgin Mobile has given them a natural home to express their differences; whether that's the bundle they choose for themselves or the way in which they interact with the company.

Published in Interviews