Virgin Mobile launches MVNO in Russia

Natalie Bannerman
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Virgin Mobile is to launch an MVNO in Russia leveraging Tele2's network

Virgin Group is rumoured to be launching services as an MVNO in Russia.

According to the Vedomosti, the operator is running the new service on Tele2’s network under the brand Virgin Connect.

Virgin Connect has been present in Russia for a number of years operating as a provider of fixed-line internet, IP telephony and pay-TV services. While it mobile offering is limited to a trial service that is being used by company employees and a small group of customers.

As reported in the Moscow Times, Russia's MVNO market is still small, comprising MTS, MegaFon and VimpelCom, which together serve approximately 84% of customers according to specialist consultancy Advanced Communications & Media (AC&M). The MVNO market is predicted to reach 6.8 million customers by the end of 2017 or an increase of 2%, said the Vedomosti.

With roughly 255.59 million mobile connections, Virgin Connect's host operator Tele2 had a 15% market share with 39 million customers. Virgin Mobile is present as an MVNO in a dozen markets worldwide.

In July of this year, Virgin Mobile launched its data-free Twitter offering that enables user of its 4G data plan to use the social media platform as much as they’d like without it eating into their monthly data allowance. Virgin Mobile was already ahead of the pack with data-free use of social media apps such as Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger, but has arguably now increased its value as the only UK provider to offer these services.

Additionally at the start of the year Virgin Mobile renewed its 17 year old MVNO agreement with BT’s EE, to provide wholesale mobile services. Under the deal, EE will provide wholesale mobile network services to Virgin Mobile for an undisclosed price. The full MVNO agreement, which covers voice and data services, replaces an existing MVNO wholesale agreement between the two companies and extends its exclusivity to 2021.