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Helio (wireless carrier)

FateAcquired by Virgin Mobile USA, defunct
FoundedJanuary 26, 2005
DefunctAugust 22, 2008
HeadquartersLos Angeles, California
Key peopleDr. Wonhee Sull - CEO
Sky Dayton - COB
Todd Tappin - CFO

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Helio (often stylized as HΞLIO) was a Mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) wireless carrier launched on May 2, 2006. It was founded by EarthLink founder Sky Dayton. It was a joint venture between SK Telecom (a South Korean CDMA mobile telecom) and EarthLink. Helio had 170,000 subscribers at the time of its acquisition by Virgin Mobile USA in 2008, which in turn was acquired by Sprint-Nextel on November 24.

On January 26, 2005, EarthLink and SK Telecom announced to the media that they had entered into agreement to launch a new US mobile provider. This provider would operate as a mobile virtual network operator and would lease network capacity from Sprint. The premise of this new company would be to grow SK Telecom's customer base from its already saturated home market of South Korea to the US wireless market. SK Telecom has been under increasing pressure over the last few years due to its flat growth in its existing markets. Helio, as it was to be called, attempted to market itself to the younger demographic, trying to tout itself using the latest in cutting-edge handset technology. They planned to avoid taking on the major US wireless carriers directly, and instead they intended to carve out a niche for themselves with technology-savvy consumers. EarthLink and SK Telecom agreed to provide an initial round of financing totaling $440 million US dollars, with each of the two owning 50% of the new company.


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