Update: this post originally announced that Virgin Mobile would be offering a 4G plan for 19,99€/month. In fact, Virgin Mobile made two big announcements at once – a 4G Plan in partnership with Bouygues, and a new 19,99€/month 3G mobile plan – we inadvertently referred to them as the same announcement, and have subsequently updated the article to reflect accurate information.
Today the streets of Paris were visited by Richard Branson as he arrived, announcing that Virgin Mobile would be launching a 4G mobile offer as early as the beginning of 2014. In addition, Branson announced a 19,99€/month 3G plan, which features unlimited text messaging & calls, and a 10Gb monthly data plan, looks and feels a lot like the Free Mobile plan launched in January 2012, which also featured cries of ‘revolution’ (Branson was clothed in Cuban military gear, evoking a Che Guevara-like revolution with the low-cost plan).
While he may not shake up the French citizens as much as Branson would hope for with his new mobile plan, there is at least one person looking to shake things up who will be pleased with this: Martin Bouygues. The Virgin Mobile 4G network is being leased from Bouygues Telecom, which has been fighting for the right to convert its 1800Mhz* 2G network to 4G for quite some time.
We saw with the Free Mobile launch that, while Orange, Bouygues & SFR all lost mobile customers to Free, which now controls 11% of the Mobile market in France, the real winner was Orange, who is set to make more than €2 Billion by leasing their network to Free Mobile for two years. Bouygues has been hit quite hard by Free’s entrance into the mobile space, despite launching a near-identical plan “B&You” shortly after Free Mobile’s launch; while they may have a long way to go before recuperating lost customers, their 4G network may pay for itself if Virgin Mobile can convince users to switch from Free Mobile (which has a terrible network) to Virgin without augmenting the price.
Photo Credit: Eric Piermont/AFP