Monday, March 3, 2008

Virgin Mobile says Namasate India

Sir Richard Branson on Sunday launched the Virgin Mobile brand in India through a franchise arrangement with Tata Teleservices.
TTSL, which is the second largest CDMA operator with 22 million customers, will sell the youth-based mobile service under the brand name of Virgin Mobile.
The financial arrangements between the two companies were not disclosed, but an official said TTSL would be paying Virgin what would be in the nature of a royalty fee.
Virgin will not be entering India as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), as feared by some of the existing telecom operators, said Mr Anil Kumar Sardanah, Managing Director, TTSL, at a news conference here.

An MVNO is an operator that does not own infrastructure, network or spectrum but leases these to offer services. Virgin operates as an MVNO in all its global markets. At the news of Virgin launching in India, the Cellular Operators Association of India had written a letter of complaint to the telecom authorities.
Big investment
This is Virgin’s seventh launch globally and its largest investment to date in India, said Sir Richard, noting that the Indian market was very attractive, growing like none other in the world.

The Virgin group and TTSL have also jointly established a company ‘Virgin Mobile India Ltd’ to develop the new branded service. The investment details of this company were not disclosed either.

The Virgin youth service aims to acquire 5 million subscribers over the next three years, during which period it will become profitable too, Sir Richard said.

“The estimated population in India of people between 15 and 30 years is 400 million, almost six times the whole of the UK population; and these numbers promise to be a lot of fun,” Sir Richard said.

Mr Jamie Heywood, Deputy CEO, Virgin Mobile India, said there were 215 million Indians aged 14-25 and over the next three years there would be 50 million additionally. In all, revenues from this segment then would be over Rs 35,000 crore, he said.

To begin with, Virgin Mobile will be launched in 50 cities, and in a year’s time in over 1,000 cities. Specially designed handsets in the Rs 2,000-5,000 range would be offered by TTSL, but customers are free to buy CDMA handsets separately, since Virgin would be offering a SIM-card based CDMA service, the first such offer in India, said Mr Heywood.

More Media Snaps:
The Inquirer
Virgin Mobile picks CDMA once again
This time it's in India

NOW THAT Vodafone has shown the way, Virgin Mobile is heading towards Indian shores with a joint venture formed with Tata TeleServices (TTSL).

Like the joint venture Virgin operates with Sprint in the USA and Bell Mobility in Canada, Tata runs a CDMA not GSM network.

Typically for Sir Richard Branson, the new Virgin Mobile India will be targeted at the youth market. That will leave Tata's existing Indicom brand as aiming at the mass market.

According to reports, a standard MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) setup in Indian isn't currently legal - although the local telecoms watchdog (TRAI) has recommended that they should be allowed.

So that leaves Virgin Mobile acting as an agent for TTSL. Since TTSL is a CDMA2000 1X network, that means Virgin will have to offer its services over CDMA handsets. Good news for Qualcomm.

TTSL has a customerbase of over 2.68 million, but along with its subsidiary, Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra), it currently serves 4.58 million subscribers.

Seeing as the joint venture is 50:50 and Virgin won't be operating the network, it nicely side-steps all the hassle Vodafone had over foreign ownership of a telecoms network. µ

Although Virgin Mobile India is reportedly recruiting already, there's no mention of it on the Virgin Mobile site yet.

IANs reports:

Virgin Mobile, part of British communications group Virgin Media, Sunday launched youth-oriented mobile services in India through telecom operator Tata Teleservices Ltd (TTL).

The deal brings a tie-up between two of world's leading business leaders - Ratan Tata of the Tata Group and Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin conglomerate.

Branson, chairman of the Virgin Group, launched the Virgin Mobile brand by flying down the façade of popular hotel in south Mumbai and unveiled its logo in mid flight.

TTL will launch Virgin Mobile in 50 cities initially and in more than 1,000 cities by the year-end, Branson told reporters during the launch.

The maverick millionaire expects to get five million subscribers over the first three years with special value-added services and handsets priced between $50-$125.

"Our aim is not to get as many subscribers as possible but we want to deliver this brand to a more distinct segment," he said.

This is Virgin Mobile's seventh launch globally, after the success of Sprint in the US and Bell Mobility in Canada, the UK, France, South Africa and Australia.

"This is Virgin's largest investment in India till now," he added, without divulging any figures.

Virgin Mobile is the world's first mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). It does not maintain its own network but enters into contracts to use the existing networks of other providers, on which it offers services under the Virgin brand.

"Since MVNOs are not yet permitted in India, our services will be offered by Tata Teleservices through a brand franchise with Virgin Group," said Jamie Heywood, deputy chief executive officer of Virgin Mobile India.

According to Heywood, there are more than 215 million Indians between the age group of 14-25 years.

"Over the next three years, we expect the segment to grow by 50 million. Keeping our strategy in minds in next three years we want to grab 10 percent of the market," Heywood told IANS.

He expects to have revenue over Rs.350 billion ($8.74 billion) in this segment in the next three years.

After the success in this network, Virgin plans to extend its services in GSM network.

At present, TTL, a pioneer in CDMA service, has a customer base of over 4.58 million.

Anil Sardana, managing director of TTL, said: "We are very excited about our association with Virgin and offer a world class experience to our youth segment."

The handsets offering will be 100 percent colour and will have a variety of value added services like the customers will get 10 paise credit for every incoming minute they receive from any network and can have unlimited access to various portals for daily charge of Rs.5.


  1. Delays in termination and settlement of dues for Virgin Mobile India Dealer in Chennai- Tambaram Area

    Extract of mails sent to Virgin Mobile representative and inaction even after 4-6 months after termination of dealership for Chennai - Tambaram Area... as below

    to Humayun M
    Zulfiquar AMM
    Narashima Raghavan
    date Mon, Apr 13, 2009 at 12:01 PM
    subject Re: Sri Sai Closure

    Hi VMI Team,

    Considering all that has flown under the bridge, and to speak honestly, it would be a great relief if I can get whatever is pending and more importantly to close on this and focus my efforts on my present business.

    Like all of us have our jobs to do, I would appreciate it if you understand that I also have a job to do and in my case I do not have the luxury of a pay check.. It has been 4 months since resignation as a distributor and even after completion of handover and fulfillment of all formalities (And it took me just 15 days to start business with VMI), I await delivery akin to waiting outside the Civil Supplies depot...

    Please consider this as my LAST request for a full and final settlement of payments due to me on or before 27th April 2009, failing which I shall observe that VMI does not wish to honor its contractual obligations and I shall move my prayers to a fora more receptive to my plight.

    Thanks and regards,
    Prithika Mahesh

    from srisai Enterprises
    to Zulfiquar AMM
    date Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 3:47 PM
    subject Re: Distirbutor Claims - Virgin Mobile India Private Limited - November 2008 - Chennai - Sri Sai


    i have not received oct claims details.
    Kindly forward the details once again.

    thanks and regards,
    prithika mahesh
    from srisai Enterprises
    to Narashima Raghavan
    Humayun M
    Zulfiquar AMM
    date Wed, Mar 25, 2009 at 12:05 PM
    subject Re: Sri Sai Closure

    Dear Sir,

    Please find the Pending payment due from Virgin Mobile:

    - Oct Month Claims

    - 34 100 top up card

    - VBling (38nos)
    -Vkewl (2nos)
    -Vswing (1no)
    -Vsleek (2nos)

    Kindly do the needful.

    thanks and regards,

    Prithika Mahesh

    from Humayun M
    to srisai Enterprises
    Narashima Raghavan
    date Mon, Feb 16, 2009 at 1:25 PM
    subject RE: Sri Sai Closure

    Please mail me the final recon of sri sai by EOD today.

    This is urgent & important

    W a r m R e g a r d s,

    H u m a y u n . M

    from srisai Enterprises
    date Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 6:00 PM
    subject check and make the necessary correction
    Dear sir,

    With reference to my mail dated 4th Jan 09', I would like to jot down the official procedure followed by virgin Chennai, with Sri Sai Enterprises (Preceding Channel Partner for Virgin, Tambaram radius).

    - 5/1/09 – invited by virgin team I was invited to virgin office, Chennai on 5/1/09

    - 6/1/09 – had discussion with Mr. Raghavan on final pending payment and both of us came to a common understanding. I was given an assurance on final settlement by 10/1/09.

    - 17/1/09 – partial payment made by Succeeding Distributor (Tambaram), virgin.

    - 19/1/09 – received payment and stock from virgin TSM (Mr. Deva) (for unauthorized handing of stock in market)

    - 20/1 to 23/1 -- Mr. Chandrasekhar from UTL, had couple of follow mail on TSM payment and ensured that I have received the payment. I would like to say thanks to Mr. Chandrasekhar, without his efforts my payment would have delayed.

    - 24/1/09 – received payment from virgin TSM (Mr. Karunakaran) (for unauthorized handing of stock in market)

    - 29/1/09 – visited Succeeding Distributor (Tambaram), Virgin for the balance payment.

    They (Succeeding Distributor) have refused to make the payment for the stock lying at his place. I was given payment after deducting the return stock. There was no prior notice regarding the return.

    They have taken stock from Sri Sai couple of weeks back and on 29/1 that is, at time of final settlement, they have returned the stock in hand.

    I immediately kept Mr. Raghvan posted about the returns through dialing.

    I was requested to wait till 30/1/09, but there is no guidance till now.

    In spite of your follow up mail on 9/1/09 and virgin team, Chennai falling far behind the schedule (Mr. Raghvan committed to complete the payment 10/1/09), I was patient.

    Now I am forced to written the above lengthy mail for transparent. I have cornered to a helpless and hopeless situation for which I need your guidance.

    Pending payment details are enclosed herewith.

    Thanks and regards,

    Prithika Mahesh

    from srisai Enterprises
    to humayun.m
    date Thu, Dec 4, 2008 at 11:03 PM
    subject Request for Market stock audit

    Dear Sir,

    All my FOS and most of the retailers are aware of the change in distributor. hence i have decided to stop the handset placement from 5th dec. I have complete details of Market stock and O/S as of Dec 4th.

    From 5th dec i have asked FOS not to visit the market. i have asked the FOS team to coordinate with ASM/TSM for job conformation with prospective distributor.

    Please confirm by 5th dec, whether you want me to remove stock from market or you want to audit the market stock. If i don't receive the confirmation from virgin, i am forced to take hard decision (remove stock from market). For the current situation, it is not ideal to removing stock, we shall induce uncertainty in minds of retailers and brand loyalty will be a big ? in midst of retailers, when i am moving out i want to leave with zero or minimum damage to the brand.

    What is the procedure to surrender the activation and FOS handsets.

    From 5th dec i have to concentrate on collection and claims settlement.

    Kindly request you to make all the payment due to Srisai at the earliest.

    Please revert back on any clarification.


    Prithika Mahesh

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