UK-based Virgin Group is to launch MVNO services across Latin America as part of a partnership with another MVNO specialist, Tribe Mobile, reports the Financial Times. The two firms plan to invest US$300 million over the next five years to roll-out operations, with the first services expected to launch in the next 12 to 15 months. The partnership is backed by two institutional investors, California-based ePlanet Ventures and Oman-based Dolphin International. “Latin America’s mobile telecom consumers will benefit from Virgin’s entry into their markets to provide our exciting customer focused product offering, wide range of great services, transparent pricing and value for money,” said Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson. According to the report, Latin America is viewed as an attractive market for MVNOs because – despite a population of more than 550 million – there are fewer than 10 MVNOs currently active in the region.
Virgin’s partner in the venture – Tribe Mobile – is best known for establishing FRiENDi, the largest MVNO in the Middle East and North Africa region. Tribe Mobile’s founder and chairman, Phil Wallace, will lead the Latin American venture. “More than in any other region, wireless has replaced fixed line service for consumer use and the region is ripe for new options that can either attract new customers or focus on special consumer segments,” Wallace said. Virgin’s MVNO arm (Virgin Mobile) already operates in Australia, Canada, France, India, South Africa, UK and the US and boasts around 15 million subscribers. It sold its US business to Sprint Nextel in 2009.