A cleaner walks past a Virgin Mobile stand at a shopping complex in Singapore July 24, 2002.
A cleaner walks past a Virgin Mobile stand at a shopping complex in Singapore July 24, 2002. Reuters/Jonathan Searle

Optus will be cutting 200 jobs nationwide as it phases out Virgin Mobile, which it has owned for 18 years. The brand will exit the market over the next two years.

It is expected to close about 36 Virgin Mobile shops that will affect 200 positions. According to reports, the telco is still looking to reassign some staff to Optus stores. Customers will also be moved to Optus. They will be contacted by the company in the coming days to discuss their options.

“For Virgin Mobile employees, our policy is always to talk to those who may be impacted by these changes first,” a spokesperson said Wednesday. “Any potential options for redeployment within the wider Optus business will be discussed with the affected individuals at that time.”

Virgin Mobile Australia was an equal joint venture between Optus and Virgin Mobile UK in 2000. It used the Optus network infrastructure but with the branding of products, customer service and all management aspects of Virgin. It was Australia’s first Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO).

In 2006, Optus bought all other shares, making Virgin Mobile Australia a wholly owned subsidiary of the telco.

The news follows another blow to Australia’s second largest telco when a federal court ordered it to pay $1.5 million for misleading customers. The court found that for several months, Optus told its 14,000 customers that they had to move to the NBN or risk their services being disconnected. It also claimed that customers needed to obtain BNB services from it instead of giving them a choice to switch to any other provider should they want to.

It already compensated more than 8,700 customers after charging them for download speeds it promised but couldn’t provide. Customers were encouraged to subscribe to the Boost Max plan, its highest plan. The plan was promised speeds that were found to be unattainable.