Virgin prepay tariff up against rivals’


Bonus Minutes is available to new and existing mobile prepay customers on calls to all mobile networks and fixed-line numbers. Virgin Mobile customers will be charged at the usual rate of 15p a minute for the first five minutes of a call, but get the second five minutes for free. Thereafter, call charges revert to the network’s usual lower per-minute rate of 5p. Callers get a maximum of five minutes of free calling time per day.

“There are no catches,” said Oxby. “There are a lot of free-this and free-that promotions in the market. This cuts through all of that. All the offers from other networks are heavily caveated. It is up against a degree of clutter and confusion. The market is too damn complicated for customers.”

In contrast, Oxby stressed the simplicity of the new proposition. “It is what this is about. There are no restrictions. It’s five minutes per day, two and a half hours per month. That’s it. You don’t have to change your behaviour.”

Oxby, who joined Virgin Mobile at the start of September, said the network would release a range of new handsets in the coming weeks, in time for the Christmas prepay rush.

“Virgin Mobile hasn’t tended to lurch from one initiative to another in the way other networks have zigzagged in focus from contract to prepay and back again,” he said. “This is the first change to the core tariff for a long, long time. It is going to be a key play for us during the Christmas quarter, and there will be several handset announcements shortly.”

Oxby added that Virgin Mobile would make more of a noise in the coming 12 months than it had since its takeover by NTL:Telewest and rebranding as Virgin Media. He also indicated it would make Virgin Media services and content available across its mobile platform next year.

“There has to be a closer connection between what Virgin Media is doing in terms of entertainment and what Virgin Mobile is doing,” he said.

The new Bonus Minutes tariff will be supported by in-store and print marketing. An ad campaign breaks in November.