updated 03:30 pm EDT, Thu May 8, 2008
Virgin Mobile Helio Rumor
SK Telecom may create a new, large carrier in the US by folding Virgin Mobile and Helio together, according to an alleged source for mocoNews. Earthlink's withdrawal from Helio is said to have pushed Helio's Korean parent, SK Telecom, towards a buyout of Helio's larger competitor Virgin Mobile to ensure it has a larger presence in the US. Such a takeover would give SK Telecom enough clout to merge both Helio and Virgin together.
Other options are still on the table, according to the claim, including Helio accepting cash through a private equity firm.
Virgin Mobile's US chief Dan Schulman doesn't confirm or deny the rumor but notes that his own company is considering significant efforts to recover from its financial troubles, including a deal with another virtual network operator.
A merger between Helio and Virgin would most likely result in a blend of each other's services the report speculates, with Helio's interface, high-end devices, and data-focused plans filling a gap at the more budget-focused Virgin. Both currently buy cellular access wholesale from Sprint and so wouldn't require significant compatibility changes.