Virgin Mobile to Buy Helio

Virgin Mobile USA has announced it will be buying Helio, a struggling cell phone carrier that was founded to bring the advanced features of South Korean phones to the U.S. market, for $39 million in stock. At the same time, British billionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Group and SK Telecom, the South Korean carrier that is the majority owner of Helio, will each invest $25 million in Virgin Mobile, giving SK Telecom a 17 percent stake in Virgin Mobile.

Although Virgin Mobile has no contracts or data plans, the company has indicated that it will keep operating Helio's services as before the purchase. Both Virgin Mobile and Helio use Sprint Nextel's network, which makes the integration of the two businesses possible.

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And to think I almost switched to them at one time. I had a funny feeling about the company anyway. I did some research behind it, got some info that it was struggling. I still was willing to give them a chance, but decided against it later on for financial reasons.

Their selection of phones is small, but the technology embedded in them really is great and you can't get what they offer feature wise from other mainstream carriers for the price (in my market area). Their ocean is a solidly built phone as well. But I think their company was not doing well because of the lack of exposure perhaps? I didn't know about them for a long time. Maybe it is the small market I am in as well, but it would seem it would have been hyped some.

I used to have Virgin for prepaid, and as soon as I read yesterday about this on Foxnews business, I literally was glad I didn't go to them. Virgin's customer service isn't all that great, and I was really turned off to them a long time ago when they started charging to talk to them in customer service (I don't know if they still do it).

I do look with interest and intrigue to see if in the near future they introduce new plans for either company as well as if all of a sudden the Helios phones come into play into Virgin's line up as premium phones. Or, if Helios goes prepaid in some levels a year or so down the road (Even though it was said they won't be changing anything we all know how that can go).