Virgin Goes Mobile with One 2 One

Virgin Group and U.K. mobile carrier One 2 One today announced they have formed a local joint venture company to sell mobile phones at a variety of Virgin's retail outlets.

Known as Virgin Mobile, the Trowbridge, Wiltshire-based 50-50 joint venture will kick off with a commitment of over 100 million [M] pounds (US$160 million [M]), the companies said in a statement released today.

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson will serve as chairman of the new venture, while Tom Alexander, who joined the company from British Telecommunications PLC's mobile subsidiary, BTCellnet, will head up the new company.

Virgin Mobile plans to open its doors in the fourth quarter of this year.

The mobile phones will be sold in over 300 stores, including Virgin's 85 Megastore outlets, as well as on Virgin Atlantic Airlines flights, according to the statement. The company will also be converting some of its Our Price music stores into Virgin Mobile outlets. Customers will also be able to order the phones via the Internet or the telephone.

Virgin Mobile will sell tri-band GSM (global system for mobile communications) handsets that can roam among all three GSM frequency bands; 900, 1800 and 1900MHz. This capability will enable customers to use the phones in the U.S. as well as in Europe, the companies said. Further information on Virgin Mobile's future plans, the phones and pricing details was not forthcoming today.

Virgin Group is a wide-ranging U.K-based conglomerate whose companies include Virgin Atlantic Airlines, a chain of music stores and movie theaters, as well as companies that sell cola and clothing.

One 2 One is also in the process of being acquired by Deutsche Telekom AG.

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