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|05 September, 2017

Virgin Mobile seeks to transform UAE telecom market

Virgin Mobile has developed an innovative digital platform to create simple customer-focused solutions and provide them as an app-based product

Image used for illustrative purpose A man talks on his iPhone at a mobile phone store in New Delhi, India, July 27, 2016.

Image used for illustrative purpose A man talks on his iPhone at a mobile phone store in New Delhi, India, July 27, 2016.

REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Tuesday, Sep 05, 2017

Dubai

Virgin Mobile, which launched its telecom services on Tuesday in the UAE, is not targeting the mass market but is instead eyeing millennials and other individuals that are digital focused, its regional managing director told Gulf News on Tuesday.

Karim Benkirane, Managing Director of EITC’s Virgin Mobile business unit, said that the team has developed an innovative digital platform to create simple customer-focused solutions and provide them as an app-based product.

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“We are offering a fully digital customer experience for the first time in the global telecom industry. We believe we have a product but we need to bring innovations as customers will keep on challenging us.”

Virgin Mobile is the second brand of Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Co (EITC), the parent company of du and operates under the same license.

EITC has acquired the rights to use the Virgin Mobile brand in the UAE. No entity other than the EITC has any ownership stake in the operation of the brand or the services it provides.

“Virgin Mobile will use the network, IT and other infrastructure of EITC. All customer contracts and regulatory obligations will be on EITC,” Benkirane said.

The brand did a soft beta launch on June 1, and invited 500 testers to try the product.

It is the flexibility that the brand can offer consumers is the key for Virgin Mobile, he said, and added that the market needs a brand that can put customer at its centre.

However, he said that the digital business model has a lot of challenges as well and, at the same time, niche business models will work very well in the UAE.

“The app signifies a paradigm shift in the mobile industry, digitally designed to simplify life for customers, and the unique Virgin Mobile distribution model. The digital experience gives Virgin Mobile UAE customers total flexibility and convenience, putting control of their mobile service back into the customer’s hands,” he said.

Sukhdev Singh, vice-president at market research and analysis services provider AMRB, said Virgin Mobile is a “refreshing addition” to the UAE telecom space. Given the brand’s familiarity with visitors from Europe and America, it is likely to attract more visitors from those markets.

“The brand is also trying to have a bit of premium image while being flexible at the same time. Those who are familiar with the Virgin brand will think it as separate brand and will create some pull,” he said.

He said that du is expected to position Virgin in such a way that it will take some share from etisalat and will also cannibalise some of its own customers. Du may position Virgin to attract tourists as it is more globally-recognised brand.

When asked whether it will eat into du’s business, Benkirane said that it will not compete head-to-head with du and will only complement it.

“Today, we are serving a niche market and only targeted at consumers who has a smartphone and either a debit or credit card and willing to pay a monthly fee. There is no contract required to own a SIM,” he said.

How the app works:

•After downloading the “Virgin Mobile UAE” app, you must register with an email or your Google or Facebook accounts.

•You will receive an email to verify the email address and create a password.

•You can choose your own number from a list of given numbers and select the ‘Book” option on the right.

•You have the option of searching for a desired number if available.

•After selecting the number, you will be able to choose your desired amount of local minutes, data and international minutes package. The plan will renew each month automatically.

•The SIM comes with no contract and the customer can change the package every month. The company is doubling the data for the rest of 2017 for the same price.

•Virgin Mobile is giving 2GB of data and 50 local minutes worth Dh79 as free for one month for first-time registered users.

•You will have to give your credit card details to complete the signup proceedure.

•The company will deliver your SIM wherever you are in the UAE and get their services activated within one hour, without ever having to go into a shop.

•Customer also has the option of porting your existing number (either from Etisalat or du) to Virgin Mobile through the app.

By Naushad K. Cherrayil Staff Reporter

Gulf News 2017. All rights reserved.

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