Thursday, February 8, 2007

Virgin Mobile Unveils New High-End Plan

Virgin Mobile has unveiled a new calling plan option. For $99.99, users will get 1,000 minutes per month. This is considered a high-end option for Virgin Mobile, which is an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) on Sprint. Virgin Mobile targets the youth market with pre-paid and pay-as-you go plans without any contracts. Virgin Mobile’s previous highest plan was $69.99 for 600 minutes. The two plans above include unlimited nights and weekend. Since Sprint is providing the services for Virgin Mobile, night and weekend minutes start at 7 PM for both plans.

Sprint, Cingular, and Verizon all have $100 per month plans for 2,000 minutes. The difference with Virgin Mobile is a contract is not required. Virgin Mobile still has the lowest per-text messaging plan at $0.05 per message, with costs going down to $0.01 per text message when purchasing 1,000 messages. Sprint, Cingular, and Verizon just raised their per-text messaging plans to $0.15; however, Sprint and T-Mobile are the only carriers to have an unlimited text messaging plan. Sprint’s unlimited text messaging plan is $10 for individual plans and $20 for family plans, where T-Mobile’s prices are $15 for individual plans and $20 for family plans.

Mobile ESPN Lives On Through Verizon

The defunct MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) known as Mobile ESPN has found a new life with Verizon Wireless. As an MVNO, Mobile ESPN called it quits in less than a year after gaining only 30,000 subscribers in a 9 month timeframe. Mobile ESPN will no longer operate as an MVNO. Instead it will act as a content provider. Mobile ESPN content will be available to subscribers of Verizon’s Vcast service (currently $15 per month). By downloading the Mobile ESPN application, users will have access to exclusive ESPN content including fantasy team management, video clips, and video of ESPN produced shows like Sportscenter, Cold Pizza, and Pardon the Interruption. When Verizon launches live TV service, Mobile ESPN is expected to be a channel.

The agreement between ESPN and Verizon is a multi-year exclusive agreement. This is noted since the Mobile ESPN MVNO service was provided using Sprint’s network. Sprint even went as far as offering the Mobile ESPN phone through its retail channels before ESPN called it quits. Although terms of the agreement were not disclosed, based on ESPN’s ruthless dealings with the cable companies, I assume this came down to a price issue, where Verizon agreed to fork over more cash than Sprint.