Operator offers mobile services on a trial basis using Tele2’s network

Virgin Mobile has launched services as an MVNO in Russia, according to local press reports.

The operator is running its virtual mobile service on Tele2’s network under the brand Virgin Connect, Vedomosti reported on Monday, citing various sources.

The Virgin Connect brand has been present in Russia for a number of years as a provider of fixed-line Internet and business services.

As it stands, Virgin Connect’s mobile offering is restricted to a trial service that is being used by company employees and a select group of customers, the business publication said.

It did not comment on when a commercial launch might take place.

The Russian mobile market is dominated by the big three operators MTS, MegaFon and VimpelCom, which together served 84% of customers at the end of 2016, according to specialist consultancy Advanced Communications & Media (AC&M).

Russia was home to 255.59 million mobile connections at the same date. Virgin Connect’s host operator Tele2 had a 15% market share with 39 million customers.

According to the Moscow Times, Russia’s MVNO market remains relatively small. It is predicted to reach 6.8 million customers by the end of this year, or a share of around 2%, by the end of this year, the paper said, without sharing where it obtained that figure.

Meanwhile, Russia’s MVNOs market — mobile virtual network operators, providing mobile phone services using capacities of larger operators — remains relatively small. It is set to reach 6.8 million subscribers by the end of 2017, which would be less than 2 percent of all mobile phone users.

Virgin Mobile is present as an MVNO in a dozen markets worldwide.