Virgin Media, formerly known as UPC, is to launch its new Virgin Mobile brand in Ireland on Monday 5 October with unlimited data, voice and texts for €25 a month, the CEO of Virgin Media in Ireland Magnus Ternsjö told Siliconrepublic.com. Virgin founder Richard Branson is in Dublin today (1 October) to launch the new mobile brand.
Ternsjö said that the new mobile operator will launch initially with 3G data services before moving to 4G in the first half of next year.
Virgin Media will be providing its new mobile service as part of an MVNO arrangement with Hutchison Whampoa-owned Three.
“We are super-excited to bring the Virgin Media brand to Ireland,” Ternsjö said. “It is the start of a new journey for us and will continue the good work we had done under the UPC brand.”
Interestingly, Virgin Media will be the first mobile operator to launch in Ireland without a series of handsets.
Instead, the company will focus on enabling users to import their existing numbers to its network. New numbers will be facilitated with the 089 prefix.
Ternsjö said that Virgin Media is putting together a lineup of new handsets that will be launched in the new year
The new operator will offer two key products: an unlimited data bundle with unlimited calls and texts for €25; and a limited data bundle with 1GB data and 250 minutes of voice and 250 texts for €15 a month.
Both offers will be free for the first three months for existing Virgin Media/UPC customers.
Ternsjö explained that the “unlimited” bundle actually has a fair usage cap of 30GB.
Virgin Media is Ireland’s newest quad-play operator
In one sense, the move makes Virgin Media the next telecoms player in Ireland to become a quad-play provider. However, in its opening phase Virgin Media won’t be billing for mobile as part of a bundle alongside existing TV, voice and broadband services. Instead, it will be a standalone bill.
Ternsjö explained that Virgin Media will be selling the new mobile services directly through its web portal www.virginmedia.ie and through existing Virgin Media/UPC stores in the Ilac Centre in Dublin and in two other stores in Limerick and Cork.
‘Branson is known for shaking a market up, doing things simply in a customer-friendly but competitive way’
– MAGNUS TERNSJÖ
It will also be possible to sign up for the services through existing retail partners Carphone Warehouse.
“We think this is a highly-competitive offer and matches what Virgin Media stands for. We are glad to have Richard Branson, founder of Virgin, in Dublin today (1 October) to launch the new brand. He is known for his entrepreneurship and everything he has done under the brand has been a success. Branson is known for shaking a market up, doing things simply in a customer-friendly but competitive way,” said Ternsjö.
He added that on the cable broadband front some 750,000 homes on Virgin Media’s network in Ireland are capable of receiving 240Mbps broadband, with some homes and businesses capable of receiving 1.4Gbps.
He said that technology-wise Virgin Media in Ireland intends to continue running its services on Horizon set-top boxes, while in the UK TiVo will remain the set-top box platform of choice.
Ternsjö said he couldn’t speculate on the outcome of the Irish Government’s National Broadband Plan, which goes to tender shortly, but said that Virgin Media has plans to expand its network in rural areas close to where it has existing urban infrastructure.
In the UK, Virgin Media is investing £3bn to fit out 4m more homes with cable broadband.
“We are looking at opportunities to build out our network in Ireland in the same way, close to our current footprint. We have already been able to find ways to expand our network to businesses outside our network.
“Our rollout certainly won’t be on the same scale as the UK, but that does not mean we won’t be doing it.”
Ternsjö concluded by revealing that Virgin Media in Ireland is testing a new Wi-Fi modem that it plans to roll out shortly as well as new technologies to counter the downloading of illegal child material online.
Richard Branson launches Virgin Media in Dublin
Richard Branson image via Shutterstock