Sprint is closing its Virgin Mobile USA prepaid wireless business and moving customers to Boost Mobile.
Sprint, the fourth largest operator, and T-Mobile US, the third largest operator, have agreed to divest Sprint’s prepaid businesses, including Boost Mobile, to satellite television firm Dish Network to create a fourth U.S. wireless carrier.
T-Mobile US won U.S. antitrust approval for its $26 billion takeover of rival Sprint, the Justice Department said in July.
“It has been clear that Boost Mobile is Sprint’s primary focus in the prepaid wireless segment for a while and this move is no surprise. Virgin Mobile USA became an afterthought in many consumers’ minds and has been a distraction dragging on Sprint’s prepaid results,” Tammy Parker, senior analyst at GlobalData, said.
Virgin Mobile-supported handsets were no longer available in Best Buy stores after August, and they disappeared from Wal-Mart shelves in October. Even before 2019, K-Mart, Target and even Sprint’s own stores stopped marketing Virgin Mobile’s phones.
Virgin Mobile’s unique 14-month foray into being an Apple iPhone-only carrier targeting higher-value customers really crushed all hopes of revitalization for the Sprint sub-brand. Virgin Mobile had alienated its existing Android customers by the time this experiment ended in August 2018. Virgin Mobile continued selling Android devices despite its stated iPhone-only strategy confused potential customers.
Sprint’s shuttering of Virgin Mobile USA potentially aids DISH Network’s plans to start up a new wireless business built in part upon Sprint’s prepaid operations, simply because it won’t have to deal with the negative overhang from the decaying Virgin Mobile brand.