Thank U BT, Vodafone Next: Virgin Mobile signs 5 year partnership with Vodafone

December 11, 2019

2 min read

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What's going on here?

After 20 years with BT’s EE network, Virgin Mobile (the world’s first MVNO) will be moving on in 2021 to Vodafone – who it has signed a five year partnership with.

What does this mean?

As part of the partnership, Virgin Mobile will be bringing its 3 million customers onto Vodafone’s network. Vodafone will supply wholesale mobile network services (such as voice and data) to Virgin Mobile and Virgin Media Business.

A Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) is where a company offers “own-branded” mobile services by relying on a partner’s established telecoms network infrastructure to provide connectivity by leasing bandwidth. 

Other well-known MVNOs include Tesco Mobile and giffgaff which use O2’s British network.

What's the big picture effect?

By partnering with Vodafone, a heavy investor in 5G,  Virgin Mobile customers will be able to tap into Vodafone’s expansive international 5G network. Both parties have confirmed that customers will also be able to access the 5G network before 2021. 

On top of this, Virgin Mobile will be able to offer customers better deals on the latest network as MVNOs are not burdened with the immense costs of maintaining their own network infrastructure, unlike traditional providers such as Vodafone. 

The partnership represents Vodafone’s considerable shift in stance on MVNOs. Previously, Vodafone emphasised the importance of not allowing MVNO partnerships to undermine retail pricing levels. However, the partnership suggests Vodafone has embraced the additional streams of revenue it could bring by making full use of its network capacity by leasing a part of it to Virgin Mobile. 

The rush to provide 5G, a high speed network, reflects an ever increasing shift towards a more connected globe. This greater connectivity may see a rise in business models which charge for personalised services based on usage. This will be possible by relying on accurate “real-time remote connection” which 5G may provide.

Report written by Heerim Hwang

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