Sprint updates Virgin's prepaid pricing options, kills PayLo, Broadband2Go sub-brands

As promised, Sprint said it is updating its approach to its Virgin Mobile prepaid brand by offering updated pricing options and discontinuing two sub-brands -- PayLo and Broadband2Go -- that were offered through Virgin.

"We've kind of transitioned [Virgin Mobile] to focusing on those monthly unlimited plans, which are the more engaged, higher-ARPU subscribers," said Angela Rittgers, VP of Sprint's prepaid services.

In an interview with FierceWireless, Rittgers explained that tomorrow Sprint's Virgin will introduce three new pricing options: a $30 per month plan that offers unlimited talk, text and data with 500 MB of high-speed data; a $40 plan that offers 4 GB of data; and $50 plan with 6 GB. When users surpass their monthly data allotments their speeds are slowed to 2G connections.

Rittgers added that all of the plans include zero-rated streaming music from Pandora, Slacker, iHeartRadio, Samsung Milk and 8track, and that Sprint plans to add more streaming music services to the offering in the future, partially based on customer feedback. Data generated from such zero-rated services do not count against customers' monthly data allotments.

Virgin's new plans replace its current options that include $35 per month for unlimited talk, text and 1 GB of high-speed data; $45 for 3 GB; and $55 for 8 GB. "That $40 price point is really attractive if you can put a good amount of data on it," said Dow Draper, president of Sprint's prepaid services business, adding that the new $30 Virgin plan is attractive to customers who conduct most of their data usage via Wi-Fi connections.

"I think what we'll find is that the net amount of money we get from customers will be the same, but these are just more attractive price points to subscribers," Draper said.

As part of Sprint's Virgin overhaul, Draper said the carrier will discontinue the brand's PayLo and Broadband2Go offerings. PayLo offered unlimited talking and texting on low-end phones, while Broadband2Go offered prepaid data services through portable Wi-Fi hotspots and USB sticks.

Draper said that Sprint is discontinuing PayLo because it appeals only to those looking for "burner phones" and that it didn't fit in the Virgin distribution strategy. He said Broadband2Go didn't make sense anymore in a time when tablets and other computing devices already include built-in cellular connections.

Draper also confirmed that Virgin no longer sells the Virgin Mobile Custom offering in Walmart that it launched in 2014. The service used the cloud-based billing and service platform from ItsOn, and Draper explained the offering was too complex for the customers Sprint was targeting in Walmart. However, he said Virgin will continue to sell the Data Sharing service in Walmart that is also powered by ItsOn technology.

"Sprint is very much committed to the prepaid business," Draper said. He said the carrier is actively pushing the Virgin brand through national retail sales channels and the web, mainly through digital advertising.

During Sprint's earnings call last month, CEO Marcelo Claure said that Sprint was de-emphasizing its Virgin brand in advance of a new strategy, and Draper said the new Virgin pricing options are a result of that effort.

Draper reiterated Sprint's support for its Boost, Assurance, Sprint Prepaid and Virgin prepaid brands.

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