Virgin Mobile began operations in November 1999 as a joint venture between Virgin Group and One2One (later T-Mobile). It does not actually have its own network - it is a mobile "virtual" network operator (MVNO) and uses the T-Mobile network infrastructure in the UK in a non-exclusive, minimum 10-year agreement to 2014.
Within a year of launch Virgin Mobile had over 500,000 customers; by June 2001 it topped one million, making it the fastest major UK mobile communications provider to have achieved that milestone to date.
The Virgin Mobile brand naturally benefits from the strength of the overall Virgin brand - in 2005 Virgin was found to be the most admired brand in the UK (HPI Research). It offers the usual range of mobile products and services from SMS to MMS and 3G, plus entertainment services over the Virgin Mobile Bites portal.
Virgin Mobile - which later bought the entire company, floated part of it then sold it to ntl Incorporated - makes much of its reputation for good customer service and as a good company to work for.
It remains predominantly a Pay As You Go network for its four million-plus customers and has yet to succeed in attracting a substantial number of customers to its contract mobile phones. However, the ntl deal created the first UK company able to offer "quadruple play": mobile and fixed line telephony, broadband Internet and tv, which may alter perceptions in the highly volatile mobile communications market.