Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC), the company behind the UAE’s second-largest operator du, has announced the official launch of services under the Virgin Mobile brand, in a bid to diversify its branding to stimulate its mobile business.
EITC will use the Virgin Mobile brand to target millennial customers in the UAE. The new service will be delivered primarily via a dedicated app, which EITC hopes will keep costs low and thereby boost the profitability of its mobile services division.
Customers can access the Virgin Mobile app via the Google Play or Apple app store. Once downloaded, users can select their own number (with the option to use their existing du or Etisalat number), customise their mobile package according to their requirement, and have a SIM card delivered to their door within an hour.
“We have always worked hard to offer our customers the latest technologies and the best service, and we believe Virgin Mobile’s fully digital offering is ushering a new era in connectivity and customer-led service never seen before in the UAE,” said Osman Sultan, chief executive of EITC.
EITC first unveiled the deal with Virgin Mobile in January with a view to offering services and tariffs geared towards younger consumers. Mr Sultan at the time emphasised that Virgin Mobile would be a branded service offered by EITC, as opposed to a third operator.
The terms of the partnership mandate that EITC will remain the licensed provider of services, rather than Virgin Mobile itself, thereby negating the need for a separate operating licence from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.
Richard Branson, Virgin Group founder, said: “This is a very exciting time for us, and we are proud to announce the launch of the Virgin Mobile brand in the UAE. We have a fantastic team in place who I believe will make mobile better for customers across the [country].”
The Virgin Mobile brand was introduced in the UK in 1999 and is in use in more than 10 countries including Australia, Canada, and Saudi Arabia.
“EITC will be hoping that Virgin Mobile’s position as a brand that offers value for money, but is also youthful, innovative, and international, will be attractive to particular segments of the market in the UAE,” said Matthew Reed, a Dubai-based analyst with Ovum.
“The fact that Virgin Mobile customers will manage their accounts through a mobile app will help EITC to keep costs down.”
Mr Reed said that EITC will be monitoring the success of the app among Virgin Mobile users to see whether similar efficiencies can be used for its du operations.
“Our team has developed an innovative digital platform to create simple customer-focused solutions,” said Karim Benkirane, managing director of EITC’s Virgin Mobile business unit.
“There is no longer the need to go to a shop for your mobile needs, just download the app and you can not only have your SIM delivered, but also manage your mobile plan through the app.”
The delivery of services via the app is key to the success of the Virgin Mobile proposition, given the shared network infrastructure with du, said Sanyalak Manibhandu, head of research at NBAD Securities
“Virgin Mobile’s technical offering (drop calls etc) cannot be better than that of du, [so] the subscriber experience (packages, flexibility, customer service) will have to be different from that already ‘enjoyed’ when interacting with Etisalat and du, or there is no differentiation,” he noted.
Mr Manibhandu said that the introduction of the Virgin Mobile brand was likely to have “a modest impact” on EITC’s top and bottom line during the fourth quarter, with no impact expected on third quarter numbers.