Virgin Mobile Canada

Virgin Mobile Canada is an interesting topic to say the least!  The Virgin Mobile brand is a powerful one that people all around the world can recognize.  Richard Branson, the founder and CEO of Virgin,Virgin Mobile Canada did a great job at creating the Virgin brand internationally.  It's truly an amazing story to think about how Virgin Records turned into Virgin Mobile, and even Virgin Atlantic - the airline!

The mobile division or brand of Virgin came to the U.S. as a privately owned company.  It then went public, only to shortly thereafter be purchased by Sprint Nextel.  To read more about the background of Virgin in the U.S. please visit the Sprint Buys Virgin Mobile section.  Meanwhile, in North America, Virgin Mobile Canada was building its brand.  They had some interesting marketing campaigns, and were reasonably successful in launching a new brand in Canada.  They partnered with Bell Mobility as an MVNO, even though Bell has their own Solo prepaid wireless brand.  Bell owned 50% of the Virgin Mobile Canada business.  In May 2009, Bell announced that it had purchased the remaining 50% of Virgin Canada for a cool $142 million.  They said they would continue to operate the Solo brand, and consider potential consolidation at some point in the future.

As it turns out, on May 17, 2012, Bell announced that it is discontinuing the Solo brand.  While no new customers were allowed to activate, existing customers could keep their service.  This makes a lot of sense given the success (and ownership interest) of Virgin Canada.  Operating multiple competing brands is not an easy task, particularly in Canada where the market is one-tenth the size of the United States.

Purchasing Virgin was a great move for Bell, and it most certainly helped them compete with the new wireless carriers that entered the market in late 2009 and 2010.  Note that Virgin Mobile USA continues to operate as a completely different business under Sprint Nextel.  Though if you review the Virgin Broadband2Go product in the U.S. and in Canada, you'll see so many similarities in terms of branding on their websites that it makes you wonder whether there's some sharing of assets between the two countries(?).

Virgin Mobile Canada Broadband2GoWith Bell Mobility at the helm, Virgin Mobile Canada has seen some really great products, including the launch of Broadband2Go on Bell's high speed data network.  Interestingly, they also offer postpaid plans.  You can even get some pretty high end phones (ex. iPhones, Android, and BlackBerries) on Virgin's service, though for a no contract plan you'll pay a pretty penny for it.  I'm still not clear on how sustainable that will be.  It seems confusing for customers who see Bell Mobility as a postpaid brand, with Virgin Mobile offering both postpaid and prepaid.  I think some better branding positioning would probably be a good idea right about now!  I suppose they're counting on Canadians seeing Virgin as a completely different company from Bell, and not seeing they as part of the same family.

Lastly, Virgin offers a unique SuperTab feature where they give you a substantial discount on your phone, and then take 10% of your monthly bill towards your SuperTab balance.  It's actually a really interesting approach, although for me it feels too much like locking yourself into a long term relationship despite the fact that it's supposed to be a prepaid, no contract service.

To see the details of Virgin Canada's services, visit:

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Wireless Broadband Providers - Canada

Virgin Mobile Canada

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