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1st MTV-Branded Wireless Phone Unveiled

Warren, N.J. — MTV, Virgin Mobile, and Kyocera teamed up to launch the U.S. market’s first MTV-branded wireless phone, which also happens to be the country’s first slider-type CDMA phone.

Virgin Mobile, the youth-oriented prepaid-service provider, also announced that it’s not hard to find a Virgin subscriber. The MVNO (mobile virtual network operator), which launched national parepaid service in July 2002, has exceeded the 1-million-subscriber mark. That puts it in a ‘virtual dead heat’ with joint-venture parent Sprint PCS as the U.S. carrier surpassing that milestone in the quickest time, said Dan Schulman, Virgin Mobile USA’s CEO.

The Virgin Group, Sprint’s partner in the MVNO joint venture, said Virgin Mobile’s subscriber-growth rate exceeded that of Virgin Mobile UK, which achieved 3 million subscribers in less than four years. The U.S. operation is also on track to achieve profitability faster than its U.K. and Australian counterparts, which were profitable within three years of launch, Schulman said.

Almost 70 percent of the Virgin Mobile’s subscribers are under 30 years of age, Schulman noted.

Since its U.S. launch, Virgin has expanded handset distribution to 10,000 storefronts and prepaid-card distribution to almost 40,000 outlets, including 7-11 convenience stores and Safeway grocery stores. The new $159 slider phone, the most expensive of the carrier’s trio of Kyocera-made phones, is available through all of the carrier’s handset channels, which include, Best Buy, Circuit City, and Sam Goody.

Like Virgin’s other models, the slider delivers access to exclusive MTV content, but it adds one-touch access to the MTV content and such preloaded MTV content as screensavers, wallpaper, ringtones, and caller ID cartoons. The phone, available in grab-and-go clamshell packaging, also features embedded games and delivers the full slate of other youth-oriented Virgin services.

The phone is part of a multiyear multiyear content and marketing agreement that Virgin struck last year with MTV Networks to launch its U.S. service. The deal includes the delivery of music, games and other content branded with the MTV, VH1, and Nickelodeon names to the phones of Virgin subscribers. It also includes promotional airtime on MTV’s channels and web site.