Thursday, December 18, 2008

Virgin launches sub-Rs 2,000 phone

Virgin Mobile has further enhanced its handset portfolio by launching vDesire. The slim vDesire measures 11.5 mm, has chrome finish and claims to have 1000 SMS storage capability.

The phone supports a large internal phonebook with 500 X 5 entries and comes with 65K color screen, FM radio, stereo headset, speaker phone, prepaid connection and lifetime validity at a price point of just Rs 1,699. The handset also allows user’s one-touch access to vbytes, Virgin Mobile's data portal, from where they can download wallpapers, ring tones and games.

Delighted to announce the vDesire phone in India, Deval Parikh, Chief Officer, Handsets, VAS & Procurement, Virgin Mobile India said, "Constant access to social circles is a top priority for youth consumers. The need for style and instant communication has hit the younger generation like never before and SMSing has become an integral part of their lifestyle today. Keeping this in mind, we have introduced the vDesire phone that comes with a harmonious blend of style and features at a price that no other phone offers in this space".

The company which targets the youth segment has claims to have given its handsets a blend of style and features. This includes introduction of a few bundled offers such as vKewl, vBling, vSleek, vTrendy and vSwing.

vKewl has features like video recording, 1.3 megapixel camera, MP3 player, FM radio and is loaded with MMS, speakers and headset and is priced at Rs 3,499.

vBling offers a mirror finished, dual screen, clam shell handset bundled with lifetime validity and a prepaid connection at Rs 2,199 whereas vSleek is an ultra slim phone priced at Rs 3,299 bundled with lifetime validity and a starter user kit.

The colour screen vTrendy is priced at Rs 1,499.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Virgin Mobile Unveils vKewl Phone In India

Virgin Mobile surely deserves lots of congratulations for expanding its range of mobile phones, with the launching of its latest addition ‘vKewl’ in the Indian market.

Targeting youth, vKewl comes packed with a 1.3 megapixel camera having video recording capability, an MP3 player, FM radio, MMS, speakers and headsets.

The CDMA-capable phone features vBytes and WAP connection, 1.8-inch display screen with resolution of 176 x 220 pixels , 256 MB flash memory together with 64 MB SRAM.

Mr. M A Madhusudan, Chief Executive Officer, Virgin Mobile India, said, “Mobile phone is a lifestyle device for youth and has become an extension of their personality and entertainment requirements. Keeping this in mind, we have now made facilities such as video recording and 1.3 mega pixel camera more affordable for youth so that they can capture and share impromptu moments spent with their friends and family without hurting their pockets.”

“According to reports, there will be over 50mn new youth subscribers added over the next 3 years in India and we expect to take a good share of this incremental market,” Mr. Madhusudan added.

Moreover, the phone also has a video player, MicroSD card support, a 262K color screen and WAP and MMS support.

It carries lifetime incoming validity and a prepaid connection.

The Virgin ‘vKewl’ is available at just Rs 3,499 in India.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Virgin comes with an STD revolution

NEW DELH,INDIA: Virgin Mobile, India's first nationwide youth focussed mobile service, today announced its new 50 paise STD Local tariff for the prepaid segment.

Customers can now call any number (mobile or landline) across networks, across India at only 50 paise per minute after the initial three minutes of the day.

"Youth are high users of mobile services. This offer will meet their behavioural needs by providing a value proposition on long distance calling," said M A Madhusudan, CEO of Virgin Mobile India.

"This new tariff enjoys special significance given the fact that urban youth have a strong need for STD which comprises around 25 per cent of their outgoing usage but importantly their spends on STD are as high as 50 per cent."

All new customers can avail this new tariff with a new Virgin Mobile connection on purchase of a starter kit priced at Rs 99. Existing subscribers, who wish to migrate to this plan, can also do so.

"Our strategy has been to offer vigour and flexibility that meets the unique needs of urban youth. We launched in India with the 'Get Paid for Incoming' offer and with the launch of New 50 paise STD Local tariff, we are delighted to set yet another benchmark in the telecom industry in less than a year," Madhusudan added.

According to him, this tariff is first of its kind offer in the country and is part of the company's effort to put end to distances across geographies in India.

Comparing to industry he said: "Against the industry norm of providing STD at the rate of Rs 1 per minute at an additional monthly commitment, this new offer will provide the lowest all India STD base tariff offer at the rate of 50 paise per minute with no extra cost or purchase of a pack – a value proposition no other mobile service offers in India currently".

As per Virgin Mobile estimates, commitment to STD packs is not a regular affair for the youth. The new 50 paise STD Local is aimed at targeting this latent need of the youth by giving them the benefit of lowest STD base rates apart from benefits for local calling at no extra cost.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Virgin Mobile India Announces Online Shopping Facility

Virgin Mobile India has announced that customers can now buy Virgin Mobile branded products and services online. Customers taking advantage of online shopping will also be offered additional talk time, extra messages as well as other freebies.

Speaking on the launch of their online platform, M. A. Madhusudan, Chief Executive Officer, Virgin Mobile India said, “We are confident that we will receive a positive response on this initiative and are hopeful of acquiring a significant portion of our customer base through our online channel over the next two years.”

For the delivery of the ordered products Virgin Mobile has tied up with Blue Dart.

Process to purchase products online:
  • Customers would need to visit the Virgin Mobile website ( and select the handset, plan, their free gift and number of their choice

  • Fill an online application (CAF) form and facilitate the payment by a debit card or credit card

  • Post the transaction, handsets will be delivered to the customer within 24 - 48 hours and the requisite documents for proof of identity will be collected in person

  • The connection will get activated post verification

  • Customers can now log on to for purchasing Virgin Mobile products and services online.

    Monday, September 8, 2008

    Virgin Mobile goes online

    Richard Branson promoted Virgin Mobile today made all its services including handsets, plans and recharge coupons available online so that customers can get the services without visiting company's sales stores.

    The company which has a franchisee tie-up with Tata Teleservices mainly targets Indian youth. The new initiative aims at reaching them who spend a significant chunk of their time online, a company statement said.

    "With 44 per cent of the total internet population in India within the age group of 19 to 24 years, it is logical for us to extend our presence to the online space and offer our customers the convenience and comfort of buying Virgin Mobile connection at the click of a button," said Virgin Mobile India's CEO M A Madhusudan.

    The company has tied up with Blue Dart to home deliver the phones at the customer's door step. It has also tied up with BillDesk for payment authorisation.

    The company also plans to come out with product bundled offers, facility of gifting a phone to friend/family and an option to recharge/top-up online.

    Thursday, September 4, 2008

    Virgin to expand in India

    Virgin Mobile India, a 50: 50 joint venture between Tata Teleservices and the UK-based Virgin group, which provides mobile services on the CDMA platform, will continue its focus on the youth segment and will add 150 more cities in its distribution network in the next three months.

    "During the last five months we have reached 60 top cities and we will be adding another 150 cities in the next three months," said Mr M.A. Madhusudan, CEO, Virgin Mobile.

    The company’s strategy is to address the youth segment with different services and differentiate the brand in the crowded market place.

    "It’s early days, but customers have endorsed our services. Over 40 per cent of subscriptions are coming through referrals from our existing customers," he said.

    Virgin estimates that there would be over 50 million new youth subscribers added over the next three years and the company expects to take a 10 per cent share of this incremental market, reaching a subscriber base of 5 million by 2010. Of this, the company expects 60 per cent subscription form the top cities.

    The five-month-old company is growing at 40 per cent, and claims to have 30 per cent higher average revenue per user than the industry average.

    Virgin Mobile is currently offering pre-paid service only. The company is likely to introduce post-paid services shortly.

    Monday, September 1, 2008

    MTNL inks CDMA deal with IOL Netcom

    Following in the footsteps of the TataTeleservices-Virgin Mobile deal, state-owned telecom operator Mahanagar Telephone Nigam (MTNL) has entered into a CDMA franchise agreement with Mumbai -based IOL Netcom.

    MTNL, which operates in Delhi and Mumbai, has invited bids for its CDMA operations. IOL Netcom, which emerged as the winner in both circles, can scale up to 2 lakh codes (customers) in each circle, according to the agreement.

    “We have GSM as well as CDMA services. However, while our GSM services attract about 1 lakh customers every month, the CDMA growth was a little slow, for which we decided to enter into this model,” MTNL CMD RSP Sinha said.

    “We had developed the franchise model even before the Tata-Virgin deal came through. Our project got a little delayed, though,” he added.

    “Depending on the response that we get from this venture, we will be able to decide whether we should open more codes for IOL Netcom if required,” Sinha said.

    IOL Netcom plans to introduce its IOL Mobile brand within 90 days.

    According to a company statement, IOL Netcom will also introduce a variety of value added services. IOL Netcom’s CDMA mobile services will offer multi-play services, comprising mobile, data card, desktop CDMA phone, IPTV and broadband services, among others.


    Sunday, August 31, 2008

    Onus on Govt to transform telecom market

    I have always been a strong believer and advocate of improving and enhancing the quality of services to the end-customer, which the government has always professed that they do, through their policies. For a very long time, India has been the most dynamic and fastest growing telecom and mobility industry worldwide, setting new milestones in adopting best practices, in technology upgradation and most importantly, in subscriber growth.

    India may have been a late starter in starting mobile telephony services, but today is the hub of global telecom growth — several factors contributing to the present day base of 300 million mobility subscribers, moving rapidly towards 500 million subscribers, which we wish to achieve by 2010.

    To achieve this grand target of 500 million, there are some basic elements we as industry players and the government alike must focus on — better systems, higher quality of services and modern technology, all of which will enhance productivity and make the lives of customers that much easier. It is all about the providing the very best to the customers — only then would the industry grow by the levels we want it to.

    Among the various things that we have been discussing and debating are the early implementation of 3G technology, which is underway but needs more clarity in policy, the implementation of mobile number portability and a controversial but important policy initiative through MVNO. These initiatives are exactly what I have spoken of earlier — providing choice and giving them the best options.

    We have been slow on the uptake on 3G, especially at a time when competing Asian economies such as China and Korea are already using or testing 3.5G or 4G. However, evolutionary enhancement and adoption of 3G must be preceded by adoption of something very basic — number portability. This concept gives me great pleasure, because it is customer friendly and stops cartelisation which I have always been opposed to. While customer retention may become a major challenge, it will ensure that service providers value and service their customers better.

    On the issue of allowing MVNOs in, I know there is much debate and controversy, but there is no denying that there is a strong latent demand.

    We already have Virgin Mobile in a MVNO-like mould, with reasonable success. With the growth MVNOs worldwide, we must take a leaf from the global book and encourage international players to enter into strategic alliances with existing spectrum holders and infrastructure players who have surplus capacity. I welcome TRAI’s recommendations that MVNOs be allowed in India while the issue is being hotly debated at all possible telecom forums.

    I strongly believe that MVNOs will drive collaborative growth — between themselves, service provider and even network enablers or content providers — in all facets of the wireless market facilitating lucrative partnerships. It is high time the government took a mature stand on these subjects and resolved these issues as early as possible. We are waiting for that ballistic push that will transform the Indian telecom market.

    ( Dr B K Modi, Global chairman Spice Corp & Spice Group )

    Friday, August 29, 2008

    Every second Indian to have a mobile by 2012

    With India now adding 8 to 10 million mobile subscribers every month, as much as half the nation's population or one in every two citizens will own a mobile phone in India by the middle of 2012.

    According to Business Monitor International, a renowned London-based research firm, 612 million mobile subscribers by 2012 will help India clock a mobile teledensity of roughly 51% by 2012. This scorching pace of growth is unlikely to falter unless the sector faces unforeseen policy disasters or if India's operators fail to roll out their networks. International Telecom Union's (ITU) projections are in the same range.

    India is already the world's second largest mobile market, behind China's 500 plus million mobile subscriber base. Increasing incomes, changing lifestyles and lower cost of technology are allowing more and more Indians to ride the telecom wave.

    The new numbers overtake earlier estimates, including from UBS, Citigroup and Credit Suisse predicting a mobile population of between 400 to 450 million by March 2010. Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers have been more even conservative, betting on a base of just 400 million by 2010. However, India will reach this milestone in 2009 itself. India's mobile revolution has been a huge social leveler, with the growing number of users tying a diverse nation in a manner rarely seen before.

    Its youth are expected to contribute significantly to these surging numbers. Sir Richard Branson, founder, Virgin Group, which tied up with Tata Teleservices to launch branded services in India recently said, "An exciting market, with more than 215 million Indians aged between 14 and 25 years. Over the next three years we expect to be adding 50 million new youth subscribers".

    While companies like Virgin are focused on urban market, it is clear that next set of growth will come from B and C category cities and rural India. Mobile penetration of this magnitude has the ability to revolutionize long distance learning and health care reaching some of the most far flung terrains.

    Where content is concerned most analysts agree that, largely on the back of India's film industry, music services will grow fast, even if other content related revenue lags behind. Given that a reasonable part of the population by 2010 will be children below 14 and senior citizens, it seems mobile access amongst the youth and working classes will be more in the range of 70% - 80%.

    Wednesday, August 27, 2008

    Virgin Mobile’s operations given thumbs up by DoT

    The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has given the all clear to Virgin Mobile’s operations in India, reiterating that it does not consider the company’s services that of a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), Indian news source The Economic Times is reporting.

    The DoT previously ruled that Virgin could only be considered a franchisee of Tata Teleservices in March 2008, a decision supported by the Telecoms Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI); GSM operators, led by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), contended that Virgin was offering a full range of mobile services in the same manner as a full licence holder. It is understood the latest ruling comes after consideration of Virgin’s advertisements, tariffs and services on 20 August.

    Sunday, August 24, 2008

    Virgin Mobile Brand In India Belongs To Us, Says Tata Teleservices

    An ironic twist to the entire MVNO saga: Tata Teleservices (TTSL) MD Anil Sardana has said that they have exclusive rights over the Virgin brand in India, reports CNBC-TV18. TTSL is claiming the right of first refusal, which allows them to prevent Virgin from tieing up with any other telecom operator. So does this mean that Virgin Mobile cannot apply for an MVNO license without TTSLs approval?

    Did Virgin Mobile shoot itself in the foot? Richard Branson had told ET, at the time when the service was launched, that “In another nine months, when the new GSM players start rolling out their services, we would look to offer similar services on GSM as well.” Remember that they have entered India at a time when MVNOs are not legal, and hence done a joint venture with CDMA telco Tata Teleservices. The JV was initially the subject of much scrutiny from competitors and even the government - but the arrangement was deemed legit by those in power.

    That debate over Virgin as an MVNO then led to Department of Telecom (DoT) announcing that they’re open to MVNOs in India, and eventually the telecom regulator TRAI announced guidelines for allowing MVNOs in India. No date has been set yet for the final policy, which will be announced by the Department of Telecom. In its present form, we believe the guidelines favour telecom operators, and make it difficult for MVNOs to switch telecom operators anyway. More on that here.

    Monday, July 28, 2008

    Virgin Mobile Launches vBling

    Virgin Mobile, the youth-focused mobile services brand from Tata Teleservices, has announced the vBling offer.

    The vBling is a mirror finished clam shell handset with dual screen. It comes with lifetime validity and a prepaid connection at Rs. 2199.

    "Since the launch of Virgin Mobile in India, we have received a healthy response from the market and I am confident that our vBling offer will give the youth another reason to go for Virgin Mobile", said P Madhavan, Chief Sales and Distribution Officer, Virgin Mobile India. "With a perfect blend of style, substance and competitive pricing, vBling can be the ideal way to go mobile for the style conscious youth of today", he added.

    vBling also features FM Radio, a speaker phone, has a 65K color main display screen, supports 32 Polyphonic ring tones and has a phonebook memory that can store 500 contacts. vBling also has one touch access to Vbytes, Virgin Mobile's VAS services ; where the user can download ringtone, wallpapersa and games.

    The mobile phone is available across 15,000 outlets nationally and over 1000 modern retail outlets including The Mobile Store, Univercell, Croma, Convergem, Big C, Vishal Mega Mart, Vijay Sales and Sangeetha.

    Apart from this, the handset will be available in 34 kiosks in high traffic malls across the country.

    Monday, June 23, 2008

    vTrendy launched by Virgin mobile

    A SLEEK, colour screen, FM-Radio enabled phone called the vTrendy has been launched by Virgin mobile. The company proudly claims this phone to be one of a kind with a featured packed and trendy phone at a real affordable price.

    The sleek phone weighs a mere 65 gms and has a 65K colour screen,speaker phone, organiser, stereo headset, phone book with a memory to store 500 contacts, with an additional 150 contacts on RUIM and SIM card and long messaging service.

    As a value added service,the phone offers access to Virgin mobiles data portal called Vbytes, where
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    in the users by just paying rupees five per day can get unlimited usage of Virgin mobile content and other applications.

    During the launch, P Madhavan, chief sales and distribution officer of Virgin mobile said that today’s youth face a situation where they have no stylish CDMA handsets in the price range of Rs.1,500. Even a GSM service provider handsets bundled offer are not actually capable of providing an appealing and attractive handset. Virgin mobile will see to it that 34 Kiosks at different malls across the country will also sport this trendy mobile.

    Wednesday, May 21, 2008

    Virgin Mobile India appoints Madhusudan Mandyam as CEO

    Virgin Mobile India, a joint venture between Virgin Group and Tata Teleservices, on wednesday said it has appointed Madhusudan Mandyam as its chief executive officer.

    Prior to this, Mandyam was Tata Teleservices' President. As CEO, Mandyam would be responsible for providing strategic direction and operational focus to Virgin Mobile India and would help drive partnerships and strategic alliances for the organisation.

    He would also lead the team in market building initiatives in the country.

    "I am confident that Madhusudan will steer the Virgin Mobile india team in the right direction as we spread our wings and carve our rightful position in the telecommunications market," Virgin Group Chairman and Founder Richard Branson said in a statement.

    For more information, click here

    Saturday, April 19, 2008

    Virgin Mobile targets young India

    Outrageous, flamboyant, unconventional� maverick entrepreneur Richard Branson is all that, and more. So it really wasn't too surprising when the billionaire chairman and founder of the Virgin group decided to fling himself down from the roof of a Mumbai five-star hotel last month.

    The bungee jump was his way of launching the Virgin Mobile brand in India. "There is no point in Virgin doing anything, unless we can make a difference," a sherwani-clad Branson told Business Standard at the launch.

    It will take a lot more than Branson's quirky stunt for Virgin Mobile to inspire customers to take a similar plunge. The mobile services market in India is already crowded -- operators offering GSM and CDMA services account for about 250 million subscriptions (source: Trai) and the category leaders have had a decade to build their brand equity. High-decibel launches, ad campaigns and lower-than-you tariffs may not be enough to win customers. So what is Virgin's plan for the Indian cellular market?

    Two sides to the story
    For Virgin Mobile, the crowded but high-growth market is a mixed blessing. The bad news first. Mobile penetration in urban India may be in excess of 40 per cent (according to management consultancy The Boston Consulting Group), but the heavy-use customers are already tied to one network or the other.

    And given the lack of number portability -- retaining your mobile number even if you change the service provider -- Virgin's chances of persuading these high spenders to switch service providers are pretty slim.

    The good news? Virgin need not be everything to everybody, and chase volumes like the bigger players. "We are not pursuing scale for scale's sake," Branson declared last month. In some ways, this confidence stems from the fact that Virgin's business model is different from the rest.

    While other players offer services from networks that they own and operate, the Virgin Mobile network is owned by Tata Teleservices , which has a brand franchise agreement with Virgin.

    The result: unlike, say, Bharti Airtel or Reliance , Virgin does not require significant capital investments to set up networks. For instance, analysts point out that a smaller player like Virgin would require a capital investment of at least $1.5-2 billion (Rs 6,000-8,000 crore) every year.

    Instead, Virgin will either have a revenue sharing agreement with the Tatas or pay for usage of the network. (There isn't much clarity on the business model as yet; the Cellular Operators Association of India has written to the Department of Telecommunications seeking clarifications on Virgin Mobile's operational status).

    At the launch, Virgin Mobile executives were at pains to clarify that the arrangement with Tata Teleservices is not a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) -- which is not allowed in India -- but rather, a simple brand franchisee model.

    Seeking Youngistan
    Even as competitors try to catch Virgin on the wrong foot, the mobile operator is going ahead with its plans. "We believe existing operators are all pursuing the same strategy: to get as many subscribers as quickly as possible. Our strategy is to deliver a more tailored, more relevant offering for a single, distinct segment," said Branson.

    That segment is the Indian youth. There are 215 million Indians aged between 14 and 25 years, of whom 70 million own mobile phones. Over the next three years, Virgin executives expect this segment to add another 50 million new mobile phone subscribers.

    Why is this segment so important? Young subscribers may account for less than 30 per cent of the total, but they contributed over 50 per cent of the telecom industry's Rs 50,000 crore (Rs 500 billion) revenues in 2007-08. By 2010, this group is expected to earn the industry over Rs 35,000 crore (Rs 350 billion).

    Virgin Mobile hopes to capture at least 10 percent of the incremental market (that is, five million subscribers) within three years. How? Chief Marketing Officer Prasad Narasimhan says that the distinct mobile phone usage habits by the young users present a huge advantage. A pre-launch, nationwide consumer insights study offered some interesting insights into the habits of young customers.

    To begin with, they make more and longer out-bound voice calls, which means huge billing potential for service providers. Then, they have large circles of friends for both making and receiving calls -- which offers a revenue opportunity not just from the entire group switching to a common service provider but also from customised services like closed user groups and so on.

    The youth are also significant users of SMS and are potentially large customers for other value added services (VAS). The VAS market was in excess of Rs 4,800 crore (Rs 48 billion) in 2007, with SMS making up 40 per cent of revenues, followed closely by ringtones.

    Younger customers also have a shorter handset upgradation cycle -- under 12 months, compared to two years for those over 25 years.

    Consumer inside
    With its target customer clearly defined, Virgin had to ensure its offerings were tailored to suit the group's preferences. The last insight, for instance, was a potential problem. Frequent handset changes fits in better with GSM technology.

    In CDMA technology (which Tata Teleservices and, therefore, Virgin offers), the SIM card is usually embedded in the phone. Which means a handset upgrade involves an entirely new connection, complete with new number.

    Virgin Mobile worked around it by introducing CDMA phones with RUIM (removable user identity module) technology, similar to GSM phones, offering users the convenience of upgrading their phones without having to change their number or re-entering their address book.

    Then, it was important to be pocket-friendly -- young customers aren't likely to have huge disposable incomes, although they will demand cutting-edge technology and style.

    To get full news click here

    Thursday, April 10, 2008

    Virgin Mobile India launched as a joint venture between Virgin Group and Tata Teleservices

    Virgin Mobile opened its virtual doors in India. Virgin Group's "partner in crime" is Tata Teleservices, which is part of the large India-based Tata Group. The new mobile operator is the "first nation-wide youth focused mobile service" and the "first CDMA service where all customers will be on RUIM (SIM)-based phones."

    Now the weird part. Even though Virgin Mobile doesn't own the infrastructure they don't call the new service an MVNO. Apparently, virtual operators are not permitted in the "world's fastest growing mobile phone market," hence Richard Branson refers to the joint venture as "a brand extension" plan. The difference is that both companies — Virgin Mobile India and Tata Teleservices — have the freedom to work with other partners and enter into similar agreements with other players. This may translate into Sir Branson launching another, "Still a Virgin?" mobile operator with some other, possibly GSM carrier at some point in the future. ;)