FEATURE: On the Hot Seat with Virgin Mobile USA CEO Dan Schulman

Ever since Virgin Mobile USA went public last fall, the MVNO has been under fire from financial analysts. The company was chastised when it reported a net loss of $14.7 million during the fourth quarter last year and reported fewer net new customer adds than expected. Virgin Mobile USA CEO Dan Schulman blamed "economic conditions" for the loss and warned that the conditions will continue to affect the consumer market and wireless industry during 2008. FierceWireless editor Brian Dolan talked with Schulman at last month's CTIA Wireless 2008 conference in Las Vegas about Virgin's troubles.

FierceWireless: How is the slowing economic environment affecting Virgin Mobile USA?

Schulman: There is a real fear that a slowing economic environment will lead wireless users to cut back on usage. It doesn't have to be though. The real issue and key to [Virgin Mobile USA's] value proposition is that it's tailor made for this kind of environment. Just because we're in a difficult economic environment doesn't mean we should cut back on our offerings. So our new service plans show that we're not sitting still, that we are still innovating. If you're like 75 percent of the U.S. population, you're using 200 minutes to 1000 minutes per month. So we're sticking to our roots--flexibility--and offering great values without having to sign long-term contracts--like our 5 cents-a-minute plans. For $50 a month, a customer can now get 1000 minutes with rollover. That's new for a prepaid offering.

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