Hanging up on Virgin Mobile

Optus will phase out Virgin Mobile in Australia, and hopes to keep its customers

  • Virgin Mobile customers urged to find cheaper, better deals
  • One expert says Optus may work hard to retain Virgin Mobile customers

Virgin Mobile is being phased out of the Australian market and more than one million customers will be affected. If you're one of them, here's what you need to know.

What's changing?

Optus has confirmed it's killing the Virgin Mobile brand in Australia, with reports claiming 36 retail stores will be closed and 200 staff will be made redundant.

"We are always looking to review our business to ensure that it operates as efficiently as possible," an Optus spokesperson says, adding the move will result in the consolidation of sales and marketing teams.

Where will Virgin Mobile customers go?

Optus is aiming to migrate Virgin Mobile's existing customers to its network. Specific details are scant at present, but experts suggest the parent company will be working hard to win their business.

Optus could do this by offering cheap deals, says Foad Fadaghi, principal technology analyst at Telsyte.

"Virgin customers need to understand what the changes will mean for their service once the brand is retired. It might not be all bad.

"Optus will work hard to retain [them], and it might look to provide some additional benefits to those that stay loyal."

But other experts believe customers should survey the market for better deals, as rivalling telcos will be circling Virgin Mobile's customer base like vultures.

"It's a valuable wake-up call for Virgin Mobile customers to re-evaluate the plan they are paying for, and to take a moment to see if there is a better, cheaper plan available," says Joseph Hanlon, publisher of plan comparison site WhistleOut.

"The difference between the price and value in phone plans today compared with two years ago is enormous. Most people should find they can cut their phone bill in half and not give up any of the features or services that they rely on," he says.

How much time do I have?

Optus has confirmed the Virgin Mobile brand will be withdrawn from the market within the next two years.

"Virgin Mobile customers can continue to use their service in the same way they always have," the spokesperson says."We will be contacting them in the coming days to let them know more about the changes and their future options."

So if Optus owns Virgin, is there a difference in network quality?

Virgin already offers its service over the Optus network, which it says covers 98.5% of the Australian population. Odds are the customers that do migrate across to Optus won't notice any difference in reception.