updated 02:35 pm EDT, Fri August 22, 2008
Virgin Helio Deal Approved
Virgin Mobile today said the US government has greenlit its buyout of Helio. The approval comes without having to change the original terms of the deal, which hands over all of Helio's 170,000 customers and actually improves the rates Virgin pays Sprint to use its network for calls and data. It also significantly reduces Helio's debt and gives the partly Korean-owned company two seats on Virgin's board of directors.
Making the deal gives Virgin access to a subscription-based service alongside its signature prepaid feature and also supplies much more advanced data services, which include both Internet-based radio and video streams as well as GPS-aware apps.
Virgin hasn't yet outlined its long-term plans or whether it would significantly vary its strategy from either that of its own or Helio to include new devices and features; the company has often focused on younger or simpler buyers rather than smartphones.