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Virgin Mobile to Offer Prepaid iPhone?


Virgin Mobile, Sprint’s pay-as-you-go subsidiary, is getting ready to release a prepaid iPhone for consumers those who prefer not to have a contract. Initially, Cricket was the only company that had an unlocked prepaid iPhone while most carriers such as AT&T and Verizon tied down users to contracts. Virgin Mobile will possibly announce this new offering this week, while the official launch would happen on July 1st.

Details regarding the offering, and more importantly the pricing, are still scant. However, Virgin Mobile’s rates should stay as near as possible to Cricket’s to provide some competition. Cricket is currently selling the 16 GB iPhone 4S for $499.99; and the 8GB iPhone 4 for $399.99. The available prepaid plan from Cricket costs $55 per month, which gives users unlimited calling and texting. Meanwhile, Virgin Mobile presently has a range of prepaid plans that start from as low as $35 per month, with a limit of 2.5 GB of data. Yet, it is unknown whether this plan will be available for the new iPhone offering. It is also unclear at this point if Virgin Mobile plans to sell the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 4, or both of these devices under the prepaid scheme.

In any case, Virgin Mobile already has an advantage over Cricket before it has even launched the prepaid iPhone deal. Sprint carries a wider coverage in the United States, spanning almost nationwide, and covering some 278 million people. On the other hand, Cricket only caters to a smaller coverage area that covers about 60 million users.

The new offering from Virgin Mobile is expected to help Sprint to fulfill a previous commitment to Apple that it will purchase $15.5 billion’s worth of iPhones. The deal is good for a period of four years. It will also likely offset the losses experienced by Sprint since it has reportedly lost around 192,000 consumers on their contract plans in the first quarter of this year. Even their 489,000 new consumers on prepaid plans do not make up for the loss since generally, telecommunications companies earn more with consumers on contracts.