MVNOs are very popular in Australia with many users opting for the resellers’ cheaper prices for phone and data access. One such MVNO is Virgin Mobile, previously jointly owned by Optus and Virgin Mobile UK but now wholly owned by Optus after they bought out Richard Branson’s share in 2006. Now, The Australian is reporting that the MVNO will be no more.
The Australian believes that Optus is getting ready to shutter Virgin Mobile Australia and migrate all users over to Optus — those customers ready are, in effect, Optus customers, except in name. In the process Optus, will no longer have to pay branding licence fees to Virgin Mobile.
When queried about the story, Virgin Australia PR directed our enquiry to Optus, which leads us to believe there’s something in this story. For their part, an Optus spokesperson told Ausdroid:
At Optus, we continually review our business model to ensure we’re working in the best way possible to meet our customer’s needs and achieve our goals.
Optus does not comment on rumour and speculation.
While we don’t have any changes to announce today, if there are changes, our priority is to talk directly with our employees first, and anyone who might be affected by any proposed changes.
Just last year, Virgin Mobile stopped taking on new prepaid customers signalling a change in the winds. With Virgin Mobile steadily losing market share (down from 5.4% to 4.4% during the 12 months to June 2017) it would be no surprise to see Optus consolidate their share of the market with TPG set to enter the space very soon.
TPG are big enough to shake up the market with their own spectrum and no need to piggyback off any of the big three carriers. Optus appears to be shoring up their own shop before this happens.
While none of this is official just yet, The Australian seems fairly certain of their source and it makes sense for Optus to head down this path. Hopefully in the end as consumers we are the winners.
Are you with Virgin Mobile? Will you be concerned about this migration over to Optus?