12/3/2008 10:57:00 AM
Virgin launches mobile internet service
Virgin Mobile is planning to target the three million Virgin Mobile broadband customers who have mobile contracts on rival networks, as the operator launches its mobile internet proposition.
The move comes as Virgin launches a 30p per day mobile internet service for its own mobile customers, which will be available from next week.
A web portal similar to that featured on the Virgin Media homepage has been developed specifically for mobiles. It will be promoted to Virgin Media customers from March 2009, who will be able to install it on their handsets regardless of the mobile network they use.
ns managing director, Graeme Oxby, said: ‘This will be a simple, sensible experience avoiding things like the scrolling that many people currently experience. We’ve focused on really good usability and great content, and it’s not something we have to keep to ourselves.’
Virgin believes there will be sufficient interest from their fixed-line customers because it uses the familiar landing page many are accustomed to when they go online on their PCs.
If successful, mobile customers who are using Orange, O2, Vodafone, 3 or T-Mobile networks will use the Virgin Mobile web portal but will continue to be billed by their network providers.
Oxby added: ‘Companies like O2 want their customers to go on to the BBC website and Facebook, and this portal makes it much better and easier for customers.’
Virgin has agreed deals with Facebook, Bebo and MySpace to apply mobile platforms for the popular social networking sites.
He said the portal was not like previous ‘walled garden’ portals on mobile phones that restricted the pages users could visit online.
‘We’re offering open access. We already have a big audience through Virgin Media who use the portal at home, and like it. It is not restricted, but simply a great way of accessing the most popular sites, and helping people download music or video.’
The end game appears to be to draw mobile customers from other networks to Virgin and ultimately sign them up for both mobile and broadband.
Virgin Media is the second largest broadband provider in the country, with 3.8 million customers using its broadband, TV and home phone service. Between 80% and 90% of Virgin Media customers are not on Virgin Mobile.
Virgin hopes the 30p deal will help it stand out from its rivals by not committing customers to a monthly contract for mobile internet. Instead users will pay the 30p charge only on the days they access the internet.