Sir Richard Branson’s Virtual cellular network Virgin Mobile USA is getting shut down. The announcement by Sprint today said that it’s going to be shutting down Virgin Mobile USA starting on February 2nd and will be transferring all its existing customers to Boost Mobile instead.
It’s possible you won’t notice much of a difference in use scenarios except how you pay for the service as the company says it won’t be supporting PayPal accounts or 45/90 Day top-ups. A Sprint spokesperson told FierceWireless that customers will be able to keep the same phone and keep paying the same price, and you’ll still technically be on the same Sprint network.
An FAQ on Virgin Mobile USA’s website doesn’t specify a particular date the shutdown will be complete but does say that customers can get a head start on the transfer to Boost if they want.
“We regularly examine our plans to ensure that we’re offering the best services in line with our customer needs,” a Sprint spokesperson explained. “Beginning on the week of Feb. 2, we will be moving Virgin Mobile customer accounts to our sister brand Boost Mobile — consolidating the brands under one cohesive, efficient and effective prepaid team.”
Though Virgin mobile has been around for years, its no surprise the company is phasing out considering how little we’ve seen or heard from the prepaid brand lately.
Sprint tried to relaunch Virgin Mobile as an iPhone-only MVNO in late 2017, tempting iPhone owners to switch by offering one year of service for $1 and selling only iPhones for a period of time. That didn’t work out for Virgin Mobile, though, and while Virgin does sell Android devices now, the lack of aggressive promotions paired with the shunning of Android users likely doomed it.
Virginia Mobile was founded in 2001 as a joint venture between Sprint and Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group before Sprint became the sole owner of the carrier in 2009. In recent years, however, Sprint has been letting the brand languish. The most recent nail in the coffin was in October when Sprint terminated Walmart’s distribution rights, the last place Virgin Mobile could still be purchased outside of its online store.
T-Mobile and Sprint are currently in the process of trying to merge and are defending their proposed merger in court against a coalition of states trying to stop it. As one of the concessions to win FCC and DOJ approval, the two carriers agreed to divest Sprint’s prepaid services and sell them to Dish Network. This would, of course, include Boost Mobile.
This isn’t the end of Virgin Mobile, by the way. While its Australian counterpart (run by Optus) is also currently being phased out, it’s still a cellular brand in Sir Richard Branson’s native UK.