Virgin Mobile is a mobile phone service provider operating in the United Kingdom. It is owned by Virgin Media which is part of Virgin Media O2. The company was launched by Virgin Group in 1999 as the world’s first mobile virtual network operator (MVNO).
A mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) is a wireless communications services provider that does not own the wireless network infrastructure over which it provides services to its customers. An MVNO enters into a business agreement with a mobile network operator to obtain bulk access to network services at wholesale rates, then sets retail prices independently. An MVNO may use its own customer service, billing support systems, marketing, and sales personnel, or it could employ the services of a mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE).
As a virtual operator, Virgin Mobile does not maintain its own network but connects customers through the O2 network.
Virgin Mobile was launched in November 1999 as a private joint venture between One2One (later T-Mobile UK) and the Virgin Group. The joint venture involved leasing network bandwidth from One2One and re-selling it under the Virgin Mobile brand, making it significantly cheaper to run than if Virgin operated its own network infrastructure.
As of June 2014, 943 MVNOs and 255 MNO sub-brands were active worldwide. This represents a total of almost 1,200 mobile service providers worldwide hosted by MNOs, up from 1,036 in 2012.
According to the Wikipedia