Thursday, November 6, 2008

Virgin comes out swinging

Private Property

Consumers can expect to see a new telecommunications battle from Virgin Mobile, which will be spearheaded by the company's new CEO, Steve Bailey.

Bailey, a 50% shareholder of the company, takes over as Virgin Mobile SA's CEO from Peter Boyd, who led the company since December 2006.

In an interview with ITWeb this morning, Boyd explained the company will become more visible over the next few months as it prepares to fight the incumbent interconnect fees, which he said keeps Virgin Mobile's prices higher than it would like.

“This month we launched the 99c Virgin to Virgin call. It really speaks to the unfair interconnect regime we face as a virtual provider in this country,” he said. Boyd added that the company plans to lobby the Independent Communications Authority of SA on the matter.

Virgin Mobile has been relatively quiet over the last few months. Boyd says the company has “not held everything in front of the house”, but has been preparing to take up the interconnect trouble.

He says Virgin has already made its case to the Competition Commission and will follow through with other regulatory aspects, as well as the 99c campaign.

Boyd says the company also hopes to see a flood of new entrants in the market that will encourage more virtual operators and drop costs for consumers. “What we really need in this market now is some good competition. This will happen soon.”

Taking the reins

Boyd is convinced incoming CEO Steve Bailey will follow through with his vision for the company. “He brings seven years of experience in the industry from Cell C, which will only strengthen Virgin's ties with the third mobile operator.”

Virgin's chairman and Cell C CEO, Jeffery Hedberg, says Bailey played a large role in Cell C's turnaround.

Hedberg thanked Boyd for his contribution to Virgin SA over the past two years, saying: “Boyd has championed many of the initiatives that have helped change the South African mobile market, such as real per-second billing; clarity on the true cost of handsets; giving customers unlimited SMSes; and recently launching the lowest all day rate in SA with 99c Virgin 2 Virgin calling."

Boyd will take up a position in the UK with Virgin Mobile to develop the company in new markets. “The train is starting to move, and it will be a very exciting time for Virgin SA.”

Bailey was not available for comment.


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