Talk about a blast from the past. MVNO Helio is back in action under the control of South Korean telecom firm UBI Telecom, and its service is running on Sprint's (NYSE: S) network with roaming on Verizon Wireless' (NYSE: VZ) network.
Helio was a joint venture founded by SK Telecom and EarthLink, which invested $400 million in the company. Helio originally started service in the U.S. in May 2006 and ran on Sprint's network. In the summer of 2008, after mounting subscriber losses, Virgin Mobile USA agreed to buy Helio for around $39 million. In late 2009 Sprint completed its $483 million deal to buy Virgin Mobile and Helio service was subsequently ceased in May 2010.
According to Helio, UBI relaunched the service in May; UBI caters to Korean-speaking customers in the U.S.
A Sprint spokesman declined to comment.
Helio is offering a plan that costs $29 per month with taxes included, and offers unlimited voice, texting and data. However, a major catch is that data speeds are capped at just 128 Kbps, "regardless of device speed capability." The company is offering the first month of service for free.
Helio offers both a bring-your-own-device program and has a small selection of handsets, mainly older ones from several years ago including the Samsung Galaxy S4.
Since Helio's original demise, a new breed of MVNOs has flourished, many of them with a Wi-Fi-first business model, and Sprint has been a partner to numerous MVNOs.
- see this Helio site
- see this Telegeography article
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