Operators are in talks with Virgin Mobile about its future business, as the MVNO explores the possibility of wresting greater control over its pricing and customers.
It is understood to have approached O2 and Vodafone. However, it stressed that these ‘early stage’ talks did not affect its relationship with Everything Everywhere, which provides its current MVNO service.
As a full MVNO, Virgin Mobile could potentially issue its own Sim cards and gain greater autonomy from its network provider, giving it more control over customers and pricing, and allowing it to develop more converged mobile, TV, IT and broadband offers. Being a full MVNO could also help Virgin Media speed up the delivery of its TiVo service across mobile devices.
Mobile understands it is also in discussions with service management providers Huawei, Ericsson and Accenture on how to deliver and manage a full MVNO. However, it is understood Virgin Mobile is not seeking to become a standalone mobile operator.
Strand Consult MD John Strand said: ‘Virgin Mobile has a big subscriber base and wants to migrate them onto a full MVNO platform, and they are saying to all the MVNOs, “Who wants to do business with us?”. Alternatively, Everything Everywhere could give them a better deal.’
One source said: ‘Virgin Media has had discussions with other MNOs about its full MVNO plans so it can learn more about what the opportunities are.’
An MVNO expert said: ‘It makes sense for Virgin Mobile to become a full MVNO. It will give them more autonomy, a lot more flexibility and a much more integrated offering without the cost of running their own mobile network.’
Virgin Media has aggressively pushed its mobile business as part of its ‘quad-play’ strategy offering digital TV, broadband, landline and mobile services. A Virgin Media spokesperson said: ‘We are always evaluating options and opportunities to ensure we continue to give customers the best services around. We have a long standing contractual relationship with Everything Everywhere which is not affected by these early stage explorations.’