US MVNO Virgin Mobile has launched an unlimited calling plan as part of a strategy to win back market share from its network rivals. The prepaid plan, which will launch on July 1, will offer unlimited nationwide calling for US$79.99 per month – a price point that undercuts similar tariffs launched recently by rivals Verizon Wireless (US$99.99) and Sprint Nextel (US89.99). According to Associated Press, the US networks have experienced success with the tariffs, with a greater number of subscribers upgrading to the plans from cheaper tariffs than subscribers downgrading from more expensive tariffs.

Virgin Mobile USA is hoping the new strategy will help the MVNO move on from a disappointing first half-year; its weakening business outlook has seen it lose customers to rivals and be rumoured to have dramatically scaled down its operations. The company has also been linked with South Korea’s SK Telecom – majority-owner of another struggling MVNO, Helio – regarding a possible merger between the two businesses. However, reports this week suggest that the merger talks have ended amid speculation that SK Telecom is considering winding-down Helio altogether.