Sprint is shutting Virgin Mobile down in anticipation of T-Mobile merger

Sprint is shutting Virgin Mobile down in anticipation of T-Mobile merger
UPDATE: While Sprint representatives have confirmed in an emailed statement to FierceWireless that Virgin Mobile customer accounts will be moved to Boost "beginning on the week" of February 2 to consolidate the "Now Network's" brands under "one cohesive, efficient and effective prepaid team", Virgin Group has added an interesting twist to the story by hinting to The Verge its name might live on in the US wireless landscape after all.

Basically, the Virgin Mobile brand for the US is now returning to its original owner, which may decide to attempt a market comeback at some point in the unspecified future. Of course, all of Virgin Mobile USA's current customers will be gone by that point, so Virgin Group will need to start from scratch or lend its "valuable brand" to another existing player in the local wireless industry if the decision will be made to "relaunch a modern mobile offer in the US." The original story follows.

Sprint has been in the news a lot over the last few months, as its very survival seems to hinge on whether or not America's third-largest wireless service provider will ultimately be allowed to absorb the industry's current number four.

If and when the $26.5 billion merger will be finalized, Dish Network has to step in and take Sprint's place as a nationwide competitor for the "New T-Mobile", pursuant to the conditions imposed by the Federal Communications Commission to greenlight the mega deal. In order to hit the ground running as a mobile network operator, Dish will be purchasing $3.6 billion worth of vital 800 MHz spectrum, as well as $1.4 billion worth of prepaid businesses from Sprint.

These were supposed to include both Boost and Virgin Mobile's customer portfolios, but it appears that the latter operator will no longer exist by the time the merger is completed (or rejected by US District Judge Victor Marrero). That's because Sprint is very quietly discontinuing its Virgin Mobile USA service, as reported by a number of Redditors and confirmed on the prepaid carrier's support webpages.

The move is far from shocking, and if anything, it's likely to make it easier for Dish to absorb and unite Sprint's different prepaid divisions. No customers will be abandoned, of course, with Sprint instead planning to transfer everyone to Boost Mobile "beginning in February." A "comparable or better" Boost service plan will be offered in "most instances" at absolutely no extra cost, and you'll naturally be allowed to retain your existing phone number. 

Basically, the only important change is that PayPal is not supported on Boost Mobile, so you'll need to choose a different payment method if you currently use that for your Virgin Mobile service. 

Founded all the way back in 2001 as a joint venture between Sprint and the Richard Branson-owned Virgin Group, Virgin Mobile USA became the sole property of Sprint in 2009. But in recent years, Sprint focused primarily on Boost Mobile in the prepaid landscape, experimenting with an iPhone-only sales model for Virgin that failed miserably before gradually reducing its retail presence and marketing budget.

According to GlobalData, Virgin Mobile-supported phones disappeared from Best Buy and Walmart stores in August and October 2019 respectively, foreshadowing the altogether disappearance of the prepaid brand this month.

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